FORUM ON TEENS #1. ALCOHOL
For parents, carers and young people themselves, adolescence is a challenging and confusing time.
A kid who still sleeps with his blankie is accessing pornography on his mobile phone until after midnight.
On the menu for a sweet sixteen birthday? Pink cupcakes and smuggled alcopops.
The teen who is sure that MSG should be banned has a stash of dope hidden in a bedside table drawer.
At The Hoopla we know that many of our readers are struggling with how to set and enforce boundaries of behaviour and expectation with young people who are by turns delightful and demanding; dependent and defiant and, of course, loved beyond all measure.
We fear for our children’s safety, yet want them to try their wings so they become independent and responsible people.
Young people themselves want their freedom – they think our sole purpose is to deprive them of it – but they also crave the security and guidance from a wiser, mature person.
Sometimes we doubt our ability to be that wise person.
And then, there’s the law.
This week The Hoopla asks for your questions, worries and also seeks your advice.
What works? What definitely doesn’t? How did you and your teenagers negotiate this tricky time on the three big issues of alcohol, porn and drugs?
If you’re here right now, raising teenagers; have been there, or if you can recall what it was like to be that young person… we hope you will find time to contribute to our sum of Australian Women’s Wisdom.
It’s no secret that politicians and academics don’t have all the answers.
“Rosie was brought home twice by the police, dead drunk, when she was 14. We were so shocked. There were some parents we blamed. Now she’s 17 and a teetotaller. I don’t know what we did right… or wrong.” Marie, 48.
Yesterday the NSW O’Farrell government proposed that police be given new powers making it a criminal offence to host house parties where alcohol is consumed by under-18s.
Under the plan, adults would face a maximum 12 months’ jail for supplying alcohol to any minor who is not their own child.
Police and health advocates have welcomed the proposal, saying it has to be made clear drinking ”begins at 18, not before”.
In some Australian states there is a “secondary supply law” which means it is illegal for an adult to provide alcohol to a child under 18 unless they have obtained the consent of that child’s parents.
(The Hoopla says: Spot the legal minefield here!)
Council for Civil Liberties president, Cameron Murphy says creating a new offence is a “drastic step”.
”Turning parents into criminals is not going to assist in the long run,” he said. ”Is an adult going to lose their job because they, with consent, supplied alcohol to their friend’s child?”
Good point. Does the removal of an adult from a family unit help or hinder? Will the law be equally applied to the Dad who lets kids help themselves to his cellar of Johnny Walker and aged cabernet as it will to the Mum who supplies a shopping trolley of Ruski Lemon?
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