Alcohol charity urges parents to talk to kids about Leaving Cert celebration plans

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, urges parents of the country’s 55,000 Leaving Cert students to talk with their children about their celebratory plans as research shows that children in Ireland begin drinking at a younger age than a decade ago.

Alcohol Action Ireland Director Fiona Ryan said: “Students deserve to go out, celebrate getting their results and mark such a major milestone in their lives.   For a significant number this will involve alcohol, many feel that they have to drink to celebrate and even feel under pressure to do so.

“We would encourage parents to ask their teens how they’re feeling about their results and to discuss with them their plans for the evening and find out if these plans involve drinking or not.

“It’s important that parents recognise the important role they play in preventing their children drinking to damaging levels. A recent survey found that young people are very aware of their parent’s ‘keeping an eye’ on their activities and as such are less likely to drink in such a way.

“As such, we would urge parents to ask what their child’s plans are for the evening, ask where they are going, who they are going with, how and when they plan on getting home. Remind them that they don’t have to drink and while you may not be happy about their decision to drink, if they find themselves in trouble, as a parent tell them you would much prefer they call home than fear the consequences of their drinking.”

It comes after new research reveals that young people in Ireland are beginning to drink at a younger age than ever before. Children born in 1980 were on average 16 years old when they began drinking, while children born just a decade later began drinking on average at 14 years of age.

Ms Ryan added: “The fact that young people are beginning to drink at an increasingly younger age in Ireland is a worrying trend and one which needs to be tackled without delay.

“The Government has recently said that delaying the on-set of first drinking is an important step in reducing the amount we drink in society. However, the time for such rhetoric is over. We know from the World Health Organisation that banning alcohol advertising and regulating access to alcohol are effective strategies to reduce the amount young people drink.

The Government has an opportunity with the upcoming National Substance Misuse Strategy to put words into action and ‘reduce the amount of alcohol we drink in society’.”

For parents who want more information on talking to their children about drinking, go to and click on the Alcohol and You section.
Notes to the Editor

  • Children born in 1980 were on average 16 years old when they began drinking, while children born just a decade later began drinking on average at 14 years of age. (Smyth B et all, 2011, Journal of Alcohol and Alcoholism)
  • The most recent survey of drinking among European 15 and 16-year-olds (ESPAD) found that parental monitoring is a “major factor in preventing substance misuse”.
  • The National Substance Misuse Strategy will outline and coordinate the Government’s response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland and is due to be finalised in September 2011.

For further information or comment contact:
Alcohol Action Ireland Communications Officer Cathy Gray on (01) 878 0610 or 087 995 0186