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The Junior Cert night

The Junior Certificate results are due out shortly and the newspapers will highlight again the problem of underage drinking. Irish teenagers are one of the highest binge drinkers in Europe. So how can you talk to your teen and help them enjoy a good night out with their friends? Read ahead and we've got some tips for you!

The problem of teenage drinking, and peer pressure

Binge drinking can directly cause accidents and injury as well as depression, anxiety, suicide and attempted suicide. Alcohol consumption has risen 48% in the past ten years. The average age for teens to start drinking is 14 to 15, three years younger than it was thirty years ago. What can you do as a parent in the lead up to the Junior Cert results night?
If your son or daughter is not interested in drinking; they are likely to spend the night ‘taking care’ of friends who have been drinking. The hype around the Junior Cert night and the pressure to drink is considerable. Some schools organise an overnight away for the students; maybe Glendalough or elsewhere for fun hiking followed by an overnight in the Youth Hostel with classmates and teachers. A great way to celebrate appropriately!

Offer an alternative to the Junior Cert night

According to the Gardai, a teen in trouble will often remark that they found it hard to say no to the peer pressure that builds up before the day. Your Junior Cert student may be looking for an excuse to say 'No'; or for you to provide an attractive alternative, so provide one. Speak to them before the Junior Cert night and come up with a plan that they feel comfortable with. The Junior Cert night is about celebrating your son or daughter so a meal out with family or dropping a group of teens to go karting, or an activity centre may be good alternatives. Is there something they would like to do, maybe this is the time to have a chat and suggest it?

Practical tips to avoid problems with teen drinking

90% of people have alcohol in their homes but parents are not monitoring alcohol levels. If you are the first to offer teens alcohol in your home, ensure they have a positive relationship with it. If you choose to allow your teen to drink alcohol, don't assume their friends are allowed so should not drink in your house unless pre-organised and agreed with their parents. You don't want them sneaking alcohol so an open dialogue can help. Talk to older siblings and ensure they do not offer to buy alcohol for the younger teen. When your teen is going out, check that the event they are going to is age appropriate. 

Many establishes hold Junior Cert nights which are popular so ensure they have the required pre-booked ticket. Trouble tends to arise from drunk teens with nowhere to go. Some teens may carry false ID cards to gain access to over 18 clubs.  Drop your teen as close as possible to the venue at the start time and collect at the time the disco ends.

Talk to other parents

Communicate with other parents about your teenagers plans. Each teen tells you ‘everyone else is allowed’ until you talk to the other parents and discover that that is not the case. Too much money is a problem as it can either be taken or used to purchase alcohol. Be aware of what is in the handbag, a small mouthwash bottle may be used to disguise the smell of alcohol.

Talk to your teen about alcohol

A teenager with positive self esteem is less likely to misuse alcohol or drugs. Sporting activities and clubs occupy them and build a solid sense of themselves. Empower your child to make good and informed choices. Finally, set a good example and model responsible behaviour around alcohol.

Practical Tips to delay teen drinking

  • Talk with your teen about alcohol
  • Your values and attitudes count with your child
  • If there’s alcoholism in the family, your teen is more at risk
  • Drinking at 15 makes you 4 times more likely to become an alcoholic
  • Teens find it hard to say No to the peer pressure, help them
  • Give them a way out by offering an alternative
  • Ensure the event is age appropriate, no fake ID
  • Validate arrangement with other parents
  • Monitor alcohol at home
  • Drop them close to the venue at the start time
  • Collect them when disco is over

Tips for Parents on how to support the results!
Tips for Students on how to support their results!

This article was written by Sheila O Malley. Sheila owns Practical Parenting and offers courses, 1 to 1 support and School Talks as well as Company talks on Parenting and wellbeing. See for details. Book a One Day Saturday course from 10-4pm with a friend or partner and get the tips to need to support you in the hardest job you ever do!