Australia has the highest rate of alcohol consumption in the English speaking world. It is no surprise therefore that over 50% of teenagers between 15 and 17 drink alcohol.
Alcohol excess can lead to unsafe sex, unwanted pregnancy, drink driving and car accidents, and fights, as well as long term physical damage, especially to the liver, stomach and brain.
What can parents do?
Pick an appropriate time when your child is not under the influence of alcohol and talk about their drinking. Make it clear that you love your child and that their wellbeing is your main concern.
Discuss safe drinking limits and the harmful effects of alcohol. In particular, emphasise not drinking and driving, and not riding in a car with a driver who may be over the limit.
Explain that alcohol can have a stronger effect on young people, making it even more important to eat before drinking and to drink plenty of soft drinks or water, not just alcohol.
Listen to your child and try not to lecture. If the child is drinking out of unhappiness, some further help or support may be needed.
Come to an agreement on acceptable ground rules and consequences for breaking them. Children expect and want boundaries from parents (even though they may regularly test them!).
Finally, try to be a good example and drink responsibly yourself.
For further help, kids can visit http://www.drinkingchoices.gov.au/ or ring Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800. For parents, go to http://mhcs.health.nsw.gov.au/.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.