Teens and alcohol

Cape Town, 26 September 2012 – Seventeen schools in the Cape Peninsula have been invited to re-commit to a project encouraging parents to talk to their children about alcohol misuse and abuse.

Bishops, a school for boys, re-issued the Teenagers and Alcohol guide in conjunction with the Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use (ARA). The practical guide assists parents in initiating conversations with their children about alcohol related issues. The school’s counselling department, called the Bishops Support Unit, produced the guide for the first time in 2007 with funding from the ARA.

Since the guide was first launched in 2007, there has been an Afrikaans edition produced as well as a more visually focused and simplified edition. ARA was also approached by a Brazilian teachers association, who saw the value in the guide and requested it be translated into Portuguese for use in their home country. 

In addition, the various schools which took part in the programme since the edition was first launched have developed a number of initiatives in conjunction with the guide including an ‘alcohol pact’, which is part of a document of understanding that parents accept when their son enters Bishops.

A teenager’s first interaction with alcohol often stems from the home and this is where they can be exposed to abusive drinking behaviour. “Parents should realise that they are setting the example and education around responsible alcohol use begins in the home,” says ARA spokesperson Adrian Botha.  “The re-issuing of Teenagers and Alcohol is timeous with the recent spate of media reports around underage drinking. Parents can use this guide as a tool to deal with what is often an uncomfortable and difficult situation.”

“The use and abuse of alcohol by young people continues to be a great danger to them, both in the short and long-term. It is therefore crucial that parents engage with their children from a young age about drugs and alcohol so that they can have a significant influence on the decisions their children make as they move through their teenage years. It is hoped that the Teenagers and Alcohol guide will help enable this conversation between parents and their children as well as educate the family as a whole,” says Bishops Deputy Headmaster Peter Westwood. “As a school, we believe that the more homes in which this conversation is happening then the safer the youth will be in our community.”

The guide touches on some tips for parents on how to discuss alcohol with their teens:

•    Communicate with your teen
•    Encourage teenagers to engage in activities, e.g. soccer, drama, etc
•    Help your teen to deal with peer pressure – e.g. teach your child clever expressions like I need all my brain cells for rugby tomorrow or I don’t like the way it (beer/wine) tastes
•    Know the facts about alcohol and communicate this with your child
•    Create strong family ties
•    Guide and limit – prevention happens at home with a clear set of rules
•    Encourage teens to be healthy
•    Parents set the example. Be a role model.  If you drink, do so responsibly.
If you discover your child has been drinking, here are some steps to follow:

•    Keep calm and don’t allow anger and fear to overwhelm your ability to communicate
•    When confronting the problem first decide on a course of action
•    Look at the extent of your child’s use – where, with whom, how often and why
•    Let your child know that you do not condone the behaviour
•    Tell your child why you are concerned
•    If you have reason to believe that your child is abusing alcohol or your efforts to enforce the rules have failed repeatedly, then seek professional help
•    Be wary of denial

The brochure is designed to be easy to read for parents and teens, and may be downloaded online.

Do you know if your teen has been drinking alcohol?

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