Research has revealed that around 15% of boys and 8% of girls have had an alcoholic drink before the age of 13.
As social commitments increase around the end of the year, it is vital for parents to keep track of their teenagers’ whereabouts. This is the time of year for end-of-year parties and matric holidays, and now more than ever, it is important for parents to be knowledgeable about the dangers of underage drinking.
The 2012 University of South Africa (UNISA) Youth Research Unit Substance Abuse Survey reveals that a significant number of teenagers in the average South African home have at some stage experimented with alcohol, but that the vast majority of parents believe that their children do not drink.
The South African Breweries (SAB) runs a programme called ‘You Decide’ which is an interactive underage drinking roadshow that aims to educate teenagers about the dangers of consuming alcohol. The programme also focuses on teaching teenagers techniques on how to avoid peer pressure and to make good life choices.
The campaign also encourages parents regarding their roles in their teenagers’ lives. “While parties and other get-togethers help children to develop socially, it is crucial that careful supervision occurs where alcohol might be present,” said Rowan Dunne, Alcohol Policy Manager at SAB.
As the leading beer company in South Africa, SAB takes responsible drinking and the fight against alcohol abuse very seriously.
The company has compiled a checklist for party safety, whether the party is one that an adult or a teenager is hosting, or a party that a teenager will be attending.
If your child is going to a party
- Contact the parents holding the party and check on the facts concerning the event
- Talk to your children about your expectations and the consequences of their not living up to them.
- Do not give your children large amounts of cash.
- Make it clear that they cannot leave the party and go to another without getting your permission.
- You (or a trusted parent) should pick them up at the agreed time but they should also know that they can phone you at any stage if they need to leave.
- Sleepovers are a no-no, unless you have reason to trust the host family completely. Check last minute sleepover plans very thoroughly with the host parents.
- Be awake when your children return home, or have them wake you. Talk to them for a while.
A party checklist for an adult hosting a teenage party
- Keep the party to a manageable size. Ensure your adult-to-child ratio is workable.
- Agree on a guest list—don’t admit party crashers.
- Agree to ground rules with your teenager as well as how the evening is expected to progress – including what time it will end.
- Encourage your teen to co-plan the party with a responsible friend so that he or she will have support if problems arise.
- Agree on which parts of the house and garden may be used for the party.
- Be a visible presence at all times.
- Brainstorm fun activities for the party.
- For larger parties, provide security at the gate and perimeter.
- Be wary of people who leave and then return.
- If a guest brings alcohol into your house, confiscate it and call their parents.
- Protect your alcohol supply; make sure that your children cannot get to it.
- Provide food and soft drinks.
- Your responsibility only ends once a child is safely collected. Children should not just disappear. If they do, parents should be contacted.
- Be observant throughout the party and aware that there are mobile delivery services that deliver alcohol to parties.
- Never make the exception or concede to children drinking alcohol variants that contain lower alcohol volumes.
- Be visible and available—but don’t join the party!
The ‘You Decide’ campaign has a toll-free line for youth to call, should they need any help – 0800 33 33 77.
Article sources: South African Depression and Anxiety Group and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism