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Teenage parties - when things go wrong: A police officer's perspective

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Teen parties are important events for young people to attend - that's where they learn how to socialize in a different way than they do at school. I have a great deal of admiration for those parents who make the decision to hold a party at their home. These events aren't easy to organise, particularly if you want to ensure those attending have a great time, they are all kept as safe as possible and your house and its contents are all in one piece at the end of the night. I am regularly contacted by parents who have held a party who are desperate to tell me how well things went and how proud they were of their own teen and their friends - things seemingly went without any problems and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. That said, these parents usually had put a great deal of effort into planning and, apart from the 18th birthday parties, were almost always 'alcohol free'.

I have said this many times, but it is important to acknowledge that we see hundreds of teen par…

5 things your teen needs to know that may cause an L or P plater to fail a breathalyzer even if they haven't been drinking alcohol

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No matter your age, your driving experience or how sober you are, that feeling of being flagged over by a police officer for a random breath test (RBT) is never pleasant. You may not have had a drink for days but as you're blowing or talking into that little machine, for many people there's still that fear that something could go wrong … Speaking to young drivers across the country, that first time that they're pulled over and asked to do the test can even be more scary. They may have watched the TV show RBT many times or been sitting in the car when one of their parents has been tested and know how the process works, but experiencing it for themselves for the first time can be quite confronting. What is so important for L and P platers (who must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.00) to know is that there are so many things that could cause them to fail a breathalyzer even if they haven't been drinking alcohol …

Over the years I've been contacted by ma…

Why vague warnings about 'extremely dangerous orange pills' don't work and can actually be counterproductive

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Firstly, my heart goes out to the five families and their friends who have lost their loved ones at music festivals over the past couple of months. It's important to remember that behind every headline and news story written about these tragic deaths there are people who are dealing with a terrible loss …

Earlier this week we saw a warning issued by promoters of events, police and health authorities about "an extremely dangerous orange pill" that was currently available. The Daily Mail went one step further taking information disseminated by DanceWize NSW and warned about a "psychotic 'yellow drug'" that could also be possibly linked to the death of a young man. I'm not too sure who issued the original warning but it appears to have been linked to an incident at the NSW Lost Paradise Festival where the media reported a death had occurred after taking an "unknown substance". This is how it read:

"SERIOUS DRUG ALERT: There is an extreme…

'Pill testing': How would it work, what would it tell us and what are its limitations?

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Sadly, once again, we have recently seen a number of young people dying at music festivals after reportedly taking drugs. Around this time every year, just as the summer season is about to begin, we hear of either a tragic death or a spate of overdoses occurring. Let me start by saying that I can't begin to imagine what the families of these young people must go through. Not only have they just lost a loved one but at the same time they are suddenly thrust into the media spotlight and expected to provide some sort of commentary on issues they know little or nothing about (most of them having no idea that their child had ever taken drugs), all at a time when all they should be doing is be given time to grieve. The death is tragic enough but the 'ripple-effect' on the family and friends can be devastating …

Fatalities linked to dance events first hit the headlines in 1995 with the ecstasy-related death of a 15-year-old Sydney schoolgirl who had attended an underground '…

What is 'nanging'? 5 things parents should make sure their teens know about nitrous

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Many parents would have recently read about the death of a young man at Schoolies on the Gold Coast. The 18-year-old from Sydney died after falling from a balcony of an apartment and, according to reports, had been drinking with friends and apparently ingesting nitrous oxide. The use of nitrous is better known as 'nanging'. Although there has been no confirmation by authorities that nitrous had indeed been used by the young man, the media leapt onto the story and, as a result, there have been lots of questions asked about 'nanging' and just how big a problem this is amongst our young people.

If you want to know if young people are nanging in your area all you need to do is walk through your local park early on a Sunday morning before the cleaners have been and take a look around the rubbish bins or the trees. If it is (and to be honest, I don't think there are many places around the country where it isn't!), you're more than likely to see a number of used …

Parental peer pressure and alcohol: What if your child says "You're the only one who does that"?

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'Peer pressure' is an interesting concept and a term that gets bandied around regularly when it comes to young people and alcohol and other drugs. What truly fascinates me about this area is the inability of some parents to see that it is often they and not their child who are likely to buckle to peer pressure. Time and time again I meet parents who are heavily influenced (or pressured) in this area by what they believe other parents are (or may be) doing (usually because of what their child is telling them). Without a doubt, 'parental peer pressure' is mighty powerful and many people have no idea how to deal with it effectively!

I've been through some emails from parents over the years and here are just a few quotes that clearly show that some families are experiencing great pressure in this area:
"It seems like I'm the only parent in my child's year group that doesn't allow my child to drink. It's getting more difficult to say 'no' wit…

Teenage parties - when things go wrong: An ER nurse's perspective

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When a parent is asked by their teen if they can attend a friend's party on a Saturday night, most would assume that the details their child provides them about the event, (e.g., where it is being held, the names of the host parents and the time it starts and plans to finish) would be reasonably accurate. You have to trust your teen, particularly as they get older, even if they're likely to break that trust at some time or another - that's what adolescents do! But when it comes to parties and gatherings, it's always best to go to some other sources to establish exactly what's going on … 
Any parent who makes the decision to hold a teenage party at their home (or anywhere else for that matter) is pretty 'gutsy'. It takes a great deal of thought and planning to organise such an event and it is important to acknowledge that we see hundreds held every weekend right across the country that have few, if any, problems. Increasingly, those parents who do host these…