Teenagers, alcohol and social occasions

2016-12-08 06:01
Photo: supplied Teenagers are more likely to abuse alcohol if they party unsupervised.

Photo: supplied Teenagers are more likely to abuse alcohol if they party unsupervised.

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RESEARCH has revealed that around 15% of boys and eight percent of girls said they’d had their first drink before the age of 13.

These figures are a timely reminder as calendars wind down to the end of the year and teenagers’ social diaries fill up with end-of-school parties, or matric after-parties or parties hosted by various people, and it is not uncommon for alcohol to be consumed by teenagers at these gatherings.

Research from the 2012 University of South Africa (Unisa) Youth Research Unit Substance Abuse Survey, shows that a significant number of teenagers in the average South African home have at some stage experimented with alcohol, but the vast majority of parents believe their children do not drink.

South African Breweries runs You Decide, an interactive underage drinking roadshow, which educates teenagers about the dangers of consuming alcohol, equip them with techniques on how to avoid peer pressure and to make the right choices in life.

The company has compiled a checklist for party safety, whether the party is one that an adult or a teenager is hosting, or a party that a teenager will be attending.

If your child is going to a party

• Contact the parents holding the party and check on the facts concerning the event.

• Talk to your children about your expectations and the consequences of them not living up to them.

• Do not give your children large amounts of cash.

• Make it clear that they cannot leave the party and go to another without getting your permission.

• You, or a trusted parent, should pick them up at the agreed time, but they should also know that they can phone you at any stage if they want or need to leave.

• Sleep-overs are a no-no, unless you have reason to trust the host family completely. Check last-minute sleep-over plans thoroughly with the host parents.

• Be awake when your children return home, or have them wake you. Talk to them for a while.

Party checklist for an adult hosting a teenage party

• Keep the party to a manageable size. Ensure your adult-to-child balance is workable.

• Agree on a guest list - don’t admit party crashers.

• Agree to ground rules with your teenager as well as how the evening is expected to progress, including what time it will end.

• Encourage your teen to co-plan the party with a responsible friend so that he or she will have support if problems arise.

• Agree on which parts of the house and garden may be used for the party.

• Be a visible presence at all times.

• Agree to an invitation list beforehand and resist late additions, especially gate-crashers.

• Brainstorm fun activities for the party.

• For larger parties, provide security at the gate and perimeter.

• Be wary of people who leave and then return.

• If a guest brings alcohol into your house, confiscate it and call their parents.

• Protect your alcohol supply; make sure that your children cannot get to it.

• Provide food and soft drinks.

• Your responsibility only ends once a child is safely collected. Children should not just disappear. If they do, parents should be contacted.

• Be observant throughout the party and aware that there are mobile delivery services that deliver alcohol to parties.

• Never make the exception or concede to children drinking alcohol variants that contain lower alcohol volumes.

• Be visible and available, ,but don’t join the party.

The campaign has a toll-free line for youth to call should they need help - 0800 33 33 77.
- Supplied.

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