Parents of students due to receive their Leaving Cert results this week are being encouraged to talk to their children about the risks associated with alcohol use.
According to Conor Cullen of the charity, Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI), while getting your results is a milestone that should be celebrated, for many young people, these celebrations will involve alcohol.
He noted that Leaving Cert students are being ‘targeted' by a number of venues, especially via social media, ‘with drinks promotions that encourage the type of harmful alcohol consumption that is a threat to their health and wellbeing'.
He pointed out that many young people who are planning to attend these venues will have already consumed alcohol earlier that day/evening, due to the wide availability of cheap alcohol in supermarkets and off-licences.
For young people who are not planning to attend such venues, alcohol may still have a role to play in their celebrations.
"We understand it can be difficult for parents to get the message through to their children on the risks of alcohol consumption, as they are dealing not only with the influence of peers and a constant barrage of alcohol marketing, but a wider harmful drinking environment in Ireland in which drinking to the point of drunkenness has been effectively normalised and is often celebrated.
"However, they can still play an important role in ensuring their son or daughter's Leaving Cert celebrations are memorable for the right reasons," Mr Cullen insisted.
He offered the following tips to parents:
-Help your child plan their evening by discussing it with them
-Find out where they are going, with whom, how they are getting there and home and at what time
-If you think or know they are going to be consuming alcohol, have a general chat about it, particularly in relation to if something goes wrong, e.g. if they or their friend becomes ill from too much alcohol
-Let your child know they can call you without fear of recrimination if they feel unwell or unsafe during the night
-Be interested in their night afterwards. Ask them if there were any ‘near misses' or difficult situations for them or their friends. If they stuck to agreed boundaries or expectations, let them know you appreciate it.
AAI is also calling on alcohol retailers, including pubs, supermarkets and convenience stores to be particularly vigilant this week in ensuring that they do not sell alcohol to minors.
The Leaving Cert results are released on August 17.
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