Over the years I have attended a number of Schoolies Week celebrations and although there have always been incidents, usually linked to excessive alcohol consumption, for the most part I have found the young people to be very well behaved and reasonably sensible.

The most concerning aspect of the event is the social pressure on young people attending schoolies to behave in a certain way. There is an expectation from very early on that all the teenagers going to schoolies will drink to excess and, as a result, behave badly. The media does a great job of convincing young people that this is the type of behaviour expect of them and, unfortunately, many of them try to live up to it.

It is important to remember that trying to prevent your son or daughter from attending this type of event could damage the relationship you have with them. Young people attending schoolies are not in their early teens; they are usually very close to the legal drinking age or, in some cases, have already turned eighteen. They are at an age where they are going to have to make decisions on their own, and trying to prevent them from doing so is not recommended.

Regardless of that, you are still the parent and you are still allowed to voice your concerns about what they are doing and the risks they may encounter. That part of being a parent is never going to stop and you wouldn’t be doing your job if you didn’t do it.

My advice is to take a moment to sit down with your child and talk through the concerns you have. Then, after you have finished, give them the opportunity to explain how they intend to deal with the potential problems you have raised. What many parents discover during conversations like this is that we have a generation of young people to be proud of, with many of them doing their very best to look after themselves or their friends.

Every time you have a conversation with your child about risky behaviour it needs to end with a reinforcement of the message that you can be called on at any time. It doesn’t matter what they have done, you love them unconditionally and you will be there for them. There may be consequences, but that’s down the track; all that’s important in that moment is that they are safe and know that you love them.

Writer Paul Dillon, Generation Next speaker and drug and alcohol expert. Excerpt from “Teenagers, Alcohol and Drugs”. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.