Mr Andrew Hawkins – Deputy Headmaster and Head of Senior School
More often than not when I am having conversations with families regarding parenting decisions I use the phrase as parents we “walk the tight rope” on most days. Decisions, rules, discussions and dilemmas are regularly solved and decided by using your intuition, in particular we rely heavily on a mother’s instinct within the family. As your sons reach the senior years there will always be the tendency to increase their social life and with that comes experimentation in all its forms. Decisions you make regarding their attendance to private parties is an example of walking the tight rope as a parent and things could go either way depending on the final result – you have an upset child that feels they will not be accepted socially if they do not attend or you have a happy child attend the party with an upset parent!
I always try to avoid giving advice on these issues as after all you know your son better than anybody else and I am also very conscious of the fact that my own son is only 6 years old! What I thought may be of use to you is to understand the school’s stance on parties and underage drinking. Even if your son is in the early years of the Senior School the time passes very quickly to when it becomes your turn to make these decisions.
The Southport School does not support nor encourage the provision or facilitation of any alcohol to students under the age of 18. We do not recommend that parents organise events where such provision of alcohol to minors is intended, supported or likely.
The Year 12s were spoken to recently by the CEO of liquor licensing QLD and Damien discussed various issues surrounding rules and regulations in Queensland, including liquor licensing provisions. He elaborated on the fact that these regulations are designed in part to prevent, minimise or delay the consumption of alcohol by minors to protect their health and welfare. The Southport School supports these aims and I personally believe this should be our focus as a school and as a community.
The decisions of parents to allow their sons to attend any event where minors are provided alcohol is made by parents alone. As a school, we encourage parents to consider such decisions carefully and be fully informed about the legal, health, and well-being risks associated with their sons’ attendance at such events.
In regard to the broader issues of alcohol, parties and minors, the decisions of parents to allow their sons to attend any social events with or without alcohol is one for them to make as responsible parents according to their values and relationships with their sons. As I mentioned earlier, you do know him better than anyone and you are best placed to make these decisions.
Adults have a range of safeguards to exercise including: saying no, providing education and information about risks and safe behaviour, and having authentic, “what should you do if this happens?” discussions with their sons. Saying ‘no’ may sometimes make us unpopular with adolescents, but it may make us responsible parents, and we will not be on our own.
Scientific and research evidence indicates that the earlier young people drink alcohol, the greater the actual and potential harm and risk to them. Similarly, brain development is incomplete in most boys until their mid-20s, and this fact limits their higher order decision-making abilities in relation to risk-taking.
Conversely, there is no compelling evidence that under 18s can be ‘taught to drink’ by attending large-scale parties organised by well-intentioned groups of parents at which liquor is provided free, sold or brought in by the children themselves. Furthermore, according to the QLD Police, it is possible that organisers of events facilitating alcohol to minors are in breach of current licensing laws.
Please contact me or your son’s respective Housemaster if you wish further clarification of our position regarding students attending private events where alcohol is provided to minors.
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