How to talk about drugs and alcohol with your children

Posted: 3rd July 2024

The end of exams, as well as the arrival of the summer holidays, heralds a time of celebration and relaxation for students across the country. It is natural for them to want to unwind and enjoy their well-earned break and, for many, parties and festivals will be part of this. However – without wishing to sound like the Fun Police – it’s important to talk about some of the risks inherent in these activities.

We know that many young people will experiment with alcohol in the coming months. Some of them might be well under the legal drinking age and there are obvious concerns around excess consumption, as well as the potential danger of combining alcohol and sun exposure. We all know that alcohol can impair judgement and coordination: this impairment increases vulnerability to heat-related illnesses, especially when spending extended periods of time outdoors. We recommend you have frank and open discussions with your children about the risks and remind them to stay hydrated (with water!), especially during outdoor events.

While at Channing we continuously emphasise the importance of consent and of responsible decision-making, it is vital to acknowledge that peer pressure at parties can be strong and judgement can be impaired under the influence of alcohol. We advise parents to reinforce the importance of making safe choices, empower your children to say ‘no’ to any activities that make them uncomfortable and let them know that you’ll be there to support them in difficult situations. By fostering an open and non-judgmental atmosphere, we can help our children navigate these social pressures and stay safe.

Lastly, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t highlight that drugs are readily available to young people and, unfortunately, this includes at parties and festivals. Prevention is undeniably the most important aspect when it comes to protecting your children from the harmful effects of drug use. At Channing we have these important conversations regularly in school and would urge you to do the same at home, especially when discussing parties and festivals.

These topics are not easy to talk about but we have to seek out the conversations to prepare them, possibly at a younger age than many of us would like. Please don’t think we are scaremongering; rather, see this as a call to arms to work together to equip your children with the skills they need to navigate difficult situations, to confidently say ’no’ and to have the knowledge and understanding to make positive and informed choices.

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