Your teen has worked hard all year – they’ve finished high school and now they’re heading off for a week of celebration with friends. It’s an exciting time for them, but naturally you’re worried.
For many parents, the thought of their teen going to ‘Schoolies’ can be daunting. Despite being young adults, you still have a lot of influence and say in how your teens conduct themselves while they are away – even if you think they don’t listen to you.
Advice for parents
- Talk to your teen about alcohol, the potential danger of binge drinking and drinking in a high-risk environment.
- Talk to them about alcohol laws – remind them that it is illegal for people under 18 to carry or consumer alcohol in a public place.
- Prepare them for unlikely emergencies. Talk to them about what to do and where to go for help, as well as how to handle a confronting situation.
- If they are 18 or older, remind them of the laws around supplying alcohol to their underage friends.
- Encourage them to contact you regularly while they’re away so you know they’re safe. Remind them that if they update you regularly, you won’t hassle them.
- Know where they’re staying and how you can contact them if need be.
- Have names and mobile numbers of the friends they’ll be traveling with.
- Contact their friends’ parents for reassurance and confirmation of the group’s plans.
- Help them to register as a school leaver with the local council (or schoolies organisation) in the area they are visiting.
Advice you can give your teen
- Remind them to be extra cautious with drinks, to avoid drinks with high alcohol content and to be aware of drink spiking – they shouldn’t let their drink out of their sight.
- Talk to them about pacing their alcohol intake and hydrating with non-alcoholic drinks like water.
- Remind them to eat a good meal before they drink – preferably carbohydrate-rich food such as rice, bread, pasta, pizza etc. It’ll help slow the rate their body absorbs alcohol.
- Remind them of the importance of staying with their friends and keeping an eye out for each other.
- Talk to them about avoiding risky situations and behaviours such as swimming after drinking or getting into arguments and fights.
- Emphasise the importance of never drinking and driving, or getting into a car with anyone who’s been drinking. Teens (and adults) need to be careful about driving the morning after drinking too – it’s not uncommon for the blood alcohol content (BAC) to still be elevated the next day.
- Ask them to keep some money aside for emergencies, and to always have their phone handy and charged in case something goes wrong.
- Most importantly, let them know that they can call you at any time if they get into trouble, or just need to talk.
Listen to medical health expert Dr Andrew Rochford as he gives you some tips to help you keep your teen safe at Schoolies: