Several reports show that Southland has the highest incidence of alcohol-related harm of any region in the country. When we talked with parents and teenagers about this, we found that many were unaware of how prevalent the drinking culture is in Southland. We also found that while parents would like to talk with other parents about teen drinking, many were uncomfortable doing so and stayed silent instead.
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The research shows that hazardous drinking is a problem for Southland. Hazardous drinking is excessive drinking that carries a high risk of physical or mental harm. Nationally, 19.8% of all adults in New Zealand have hazardous drinking habits, a rise from the 15% levels of 2011/12. Southland is at 25.1%; over a quarter of Southlanders engage in hazardous drinking.
We conducted a survey and found that most Southland teens claim that they would have no trouble getting access to alcohol if they wanted. Methods for obtaining it include having an older friend pick it up, using a fake ID, or getting it from parents. Some said that they know of bars that don’t check IDs. Most parents in the survey admitted to not talking to each other about alcohol expectations, citing not wanting to embarrass their child and other parents being judgmental. The vast majority wouldn’t join an online group with their identities known, but many would be comfortable if the postings were anonymous.
Why it matters
Excessive drinking has many adverse effects, especially for teens. There are strong correlations with alcohol abuse in young people and vehicle accidents, crime, violence, mental health problems, and more. Drinking is always going to be a social event, and alcohol will always be found at parties and events across the country. But it can be consumed in a safer manner. By talking with parents, party hosts, and your children, you can lower the risk and encourage safe consumption. Be the difference. Talk to each other.
Talk about it.
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Kids don't just get alcohol from parents
Some kids get alcohol from friends, or even other parents without permission, even though that is illegal. Be aware that the amount of alcohol you give your child may not be all they have easy access to.
Make it a call
Texting is quick and convenient, but also more prone to miscommunication. Texts can also be faked by giving out a wrong number, while faking a call is much more difficult.
Have the Conversation
Our research showed that parents and kids didn't always know the rules and expectations around alcohol. For example, most parents claimed they would pick up their child if they had too much to drink at a party, but many kids weren't aware of this.
Don't be on the Sidelines
Active parenting tends to have better results. Knowing the kids' friends and their parents can help keep them safe and looked after.
Set Ground Rules
When it comes to alcohol, setting ground rules about drinking like a set number of drinks and letting host parents know these rules when the child attends a party can help ensure they are followed.