I suspect that my 13yr old is drinking alcohol with her friends. What should I do about this?
Thank you for contacting Ask Robyn. There is no doubt that it is worrying for parents to find out that their underage child is drinking alcohol. The following information should provide some guidance on how to approach the situation.
Anyone under 18 is not allowed to buy alcohol or drink alcohol. In Ireland it is an offence for a person to: pretend to be 18 in order to buy alcohol, buy alcohol for someone under 18 years of age or send a young person under 18 years of age to get alcohol from a licensed premises. Regardless of the context, it falls upon parents to ensure their safety and educate them about the associated risks. You can find more information around alcohol and the law and young people here: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/justice/criminal-law/criminal-offences/alcohol-and-the-law/
As a parent, it’s essential to acknowledge that at some point, your child will likely encounter offers of alcohol. However, you can take proactive steps to prepare them for these situations. Start by engaging in open conversations with your child about how they would handle such situations. It’s crucial to educate them about the law in Ireland and connections between alcohol, anti-social behaviour, and risky sexual activity, emphasizing the importance of responsible drinking to safeguard their well-being. Additionally, make them aware of the potential risks of drink spiking and teach them strategies to protect themselves and their friends. For further guidance and resources, you can explore the information provided by Drink Aware. These conversations and preparations can equip your child to make informed and responsible choices regarding alcohol.
Establishing clear boundaries is essential when your teenager is socialising with friends. Begin by setting a specific curfew, so they have a defined time to return home safely, while also ensure they understand the rules on alcohol consumption. When introducing this rule don’t base it off suspicions but acknowledge that alcohol may come up in social occasions and it is important she is aware of the rules and expectations around this from home. Engage in discussions about their transportation arrangements, ensuring they have a plan for getting back securely. Stay in contact with your teenager throughout the evening, ensuring both of you have sufficient phone battery, credit, and good reception for easy communication. Whenever possible, encourage them to have a substantial meal before heading out. Most importantly, ensure your child is well-informed about how to respond if they or a friend encounter health issues or potentially hazardous situations, emphasising their safety as a top priority.
Thank you again for getting in touch. If you wish to talk about this further you the ISPCC’s Support Line service can be contacted by email to [email protected] or between 9am – 1pm Monday – Friday by calling 01 522 4300. You and your family deserve to feel heard and supported.
Take care for now,
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