‘Wet room’ for teens at Wes disco not a nice notion … but it is a necessity

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IT’S depressing to hear that the Wezz disco has had to introduce a “drunk-tank” for children who’ve had too much alcohol.

From Independent.ie

My eldest will be going to her first disco soon, and it’s frightening to think that instead of the innocent worries we all had before that teenage rite of passage – what to wear and how to dance in front of your friends without feeling like an idiot – she will have to contend with being offered alcohol or having some drunk lout vomit over her.

Do children of 16 and under really get so wasted before they go to an alcohol-free disco that they need to go somewhere to lie down and recover? Apparently, yes, some of them do (at the Old Wesley club’s event and others). Thinking otherwise is naive.

It’s disturbing, but this is the reality for teenagers these days. Many of them drink – and do drugs too. Many of them have under-age sex.

Just thinking about it makes parents want to build a very high wall around our homes and forbid our children from ever leaving our sides again. But burying our heads in the sand won’t help, and neither will turning a blind eye to what our children are capable of doing when they’re away from our watchful gaze.

Little Johnny or Mary down half-a-bottle of vodka on the sly before the disco? They’d never do that. But of course they might, because young people make mistakes, just like we do. For whatever reason – society’s malign influences, peer pressure, sheer brass neck or curiosity – sometimes they decide to do things we would never condone.

There’s no use having a don’t ask, don’t tell policy, or just crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. It’s our duty as parents to prepare our children for challenges and protect them from danger.

Having hard conversations about serious issues is never easy, but far better for our children to temporarily hate us because we insist on talking about difficult topics and setting boundaries about acceptable behaviour than the alternative – letting them do whatever they want and getting into trouble.

Anecdotal evidence may suggest a decline in under-age drinking, but it’s still a serious problem. That’s hardly a huge surprise since, as a nation, we’re prone to drinking to excess whenever we get the chance.

Is it any wonder that our children are sometimes tempted to try it for themselves? We reap what we sow – and for far too long we’ve been sowing the seeds of destruction with our attitude to alcohol. The full-to-bursting A&Es every weekend are testament to that fact.

By introducing the “drunk-tank” – an area where intoxicated children go to be medically assessed before their parents are called to collect them – the Old Wesley disco organisers are being proactive in dealing with a problem that isn’t going to go away.

It’s preferable to have these kids in a controlled environment instead of on the street. As a parent it must be terrifying to get that call, but – as well as being horrified and shell-shocked – I’m sure many parents are grateful that their child is safe.

There’s no point in pretending that teen binge-drinking doesn’t exist. It’s about time we tackled the issue head-on and started dealing with it.

The Wezz drunk-tank is depressing, but – depressingly – it’s necessary.