Parents have more influence than they think!

Parents need to model the behaviour they expect from their children especially when it comes to driving and alcohol use. “Suddenly becoming considerate road users when teaching your children to drive is too late”, said Ray Clark, Road Safety Officer with Tweed Shire Council. “Your child has been observing your driving behaviour from as early as five years of age, long before they get their Learner’s licence”.

An alarming twenty per cent of Year 10 and 11 students surveyed during the evaluation of the RRISK (Reduce Risk, Increase Student Knowledge) program reported that they had been passengers in a vehicle driven by a family member who had been drinking. “The vast majority of vehicle crashes are caused by speeding, driver inattention or driving under the influence of alcohol. These are the result of bad driving behaviours, not bad road conditions” Ray explained.

How you use alcohol and your attitude towards drinking will not only influence your child’s drinking behaviour but also help them avoid and manage the risks associated with drinking”, said Sue Hetherington, Drugs and Road Safety Officer with Lismore Catholic Education Office. “There are no easy answers. Over permissiveness or harsh discipline do not work with adolescents. The best approach is to negotiate reasonable limits by identifying risks together and working out some protective behaviours that can be put in place when they are out partying and driving.” said Sue.

Parents need to be aware of the growing body of evidence of the damaging effects of alcohol and other substance use on the adolescent brain which is still developing until young people are in their early 20s. “The earlier people start drinking, the more likely they are to drink heavily, experience cognitive impairment and develop a dependency on alcohol as they move into adulthood’ said Reyna Dight, Coordinator Alcohol Projects, North Coast Area Health Service.

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    RRISK is a health promotion program that addresses risk-taking behaviour amongst year 11 students in the North Coast of NSW.