Parents vital to keeping Junior Cert celebrations alcohol free

Parents are key to ensuring that Junior Certificate celebrations next week to mark the end of exams are not marred by misuse of alcohol, according to a special group set up to reduce the overall harm caused by alcohol during Junior Cert nights out.

The Mayo Junior Cert Results Night Group (MJCRNG ) said that the junior exam was a major milestone for teenagers across the county and that it was important that they could mark its completion in safe and fun environments. This, they urged, should be done without the harmful effects of alcohol. Parents, they say, are the most important influence on their children’s attitudes towards alcohol.

“There’s no pretending that alcohol isn’t a prevalent and pernicious part of Irish society, for young and old,” said Pat Conway, WRDTF community liaison officer for Mayo. “We are asking all parents to work with us on ensuring that teenagers develop a healthy attitude towards it. Parents should have an honest and open chat with their children about the decision to drink alcohol and how they intend to celebrate the end of their exams next week. Parents are the most important influence on their children’s attitude to alcohol.”

The MJCRNG has distributed an information pack ‘Teenage Years: A parent’s guide to protecting your teenager on a night out’. It asked parents to refer to the book before next Wednesday, June 19 – the big night out.

Research also shows consistently that young people who start drinking before the age of 15 are at highest risk of alcohol’s most dangerous effects. They are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependency than those who wait until 21. They are seven times more likely to be in a road accident and 11 times more likely to suffer unintentional injuries. Overall, heavy use of alcohol during teenage years can impair brain development and cause memory loss.

The MJCRNG consists of staff members from An Garda Sióchana, Western Region Drugs Task Force, South West Mayo Development Company, Foróige Neighbourhood Youth Project Castlebar, No Name Club, Castlebar Joint Policing Committee, Castlebar Youth Action Project and St Joseph’s Secondary School, Castlebar.

Top tips to keep your teen safe on a night out

1. Make sure their phone has credit.

2. Agree a return time.

3. Know who they are with and have the other parents’ details.

4. Know where they are going – is the event supervised?

5. Remind your child that he/she can ring you at any time of the night.

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