So your teenager is heading off to leavers. You probably want to talk to them about staying safe, but maybe you’re not sure about where to start? Read on.
With end-of-school festivities usually seen by young people as an opportunity to celebrate their sense of freedom, the scary combination of alcohol, drugs and sex can often be involved, with studies showing a clear association between drinking alcohol before sexual activity and not using contraception.
But it’s not all bad, and there are things you can do to help your teenage stay safe. We know it isn’t easy to talk to young people, so choose your timing carefully (maybe in the car or doing household jobs). Where possible, encourage your teenager to:
- Think ahead regarding what they plan to do while they are at leavers’ events so they aren’t making last minute decisions they might regret (remind them that taking drugs and drinking alcohol can affect their ability to make safe decisions).
- Have a chat with a health professional around contraception and safe sex in preparation for leavers (Quarry Health Centre in Northbridge is offering free drop-in clinics), even if the thought of them having sex is a bit disturbing!
- Use the ‘buddy system’ (where one person stays sober) to help everyone stay safe
- Establish a plan for communicating with you while they are away or out ie a text at 6pm every day, as well as what to do in an emergency.
- Talk to you if they have any questions, and be willing to redirect them to reputable information sources eg websites/sexual health services if you don’t have the answers
- Consider the implications of what they post on social media (ie once a picture is online it has the potential to be accessible forever).
The WA Health Department has developed a resource to help parents talk to their kids about sex
Download “Talk Soon Talk Often”
Sexual health and contraception information can be found at shq.org.au
Information for school leavers and their parents can be found at leaverswa.com.au