Involve parents in alcohol education
Please try to motivate and engage parents regarding alcohol education. Parents are the prime source of alcohol to underage drinkers in the UK (60%) as well as exerting the most influence on their children’s behaviour and risk taking. According to the 2012 GfK Roper Youth Report, 71% of children aged 8 to 17 cite their parents as the ‘number one’ influence on whether they drink alcohol or not. A survey by the YMCA found that parents weren’t seen by most teenagers as good role models and didn’t set ground rules that they stuck to. Only 21% said their parents or other adults they knew provided a model of responsible behaviour. While 55% of young people said that their school provides clear rules and boundaries, and their behaviour is monitored in the community by neighbours and others, barely a quarter (27%) said they have to abide by clear rules and consequences in their family, or that their parents keep track of where they are.
Ensure parents have the facts
Parents should be made aware of the school Alcohol Policy. The Alcohol Education Trust have a booklet to send home to parents when alcohol is being covered in lessons, or to give to them at parent consultation evenings. You can view this at alcoholeducationtrust.org.
The booklet encourages parents to talk to their children about alcohol and offers practical tips to delay teenage drinking. It discusses how to be a good role model, ensures parents are accurately informed and encourages them to set rules and boundaries, to know where their kids are and who they are with. Booklets can be ordered from firstname.lastname@example.org, or download here and share via your school intranet or parent mail.
Talkaboutalcohol parents’ events
The AET are also able to offer a talk for parents in school, based around a short DVD and Q and A session tailored to schools’ requirements. These are held as part of parent consultation evenings, hosted by PTAs or as a dedicated session, in or after school hours. To book a session please ring 01300 320 869, please allow a term’s notice.
Pupil parent homework
A great way to engage parents subtly is to send a task home, such as the quiz (which they can do together), or to design a poster on an aspect of alcohol, such as ‘how much is too much’ (including units and guidelines) or avoiding risk taking. You can ask them to assess an alcohol advert or count how many times they see alcohol on a particular programme and what effect this may have on behaviour, product choice, acceptance etc. You could also use the Talk About Alcohol Online Learning Zone, choosing from the quizzes and games.
NB Parental sensitivity
Some parents may feel that exploring drinking might encourage their children to experiment. We therefore recommend a letter home to parents, or a posting in the school newsletter or on the website. This may cover alcohol, drugs and tobacco and should explain the contents/goals and methods of the programme and give parents an opportunity to express concerns or ask questions. It could also draw parents’ attention to the school Alcohol Policy.