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Showing posts from October, 2014

'Sleepovers': 5 things your child won't want you to do that you should!

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Anyone who has heard one of my talks or has read much of what I have written this year knows that one of my greatest concerns is the increasing lack of parental understanding about what teenage 'sleepovers' are becoming. I believe that in many cases the 'sleepover' is actually a secret teenage term for "I'm going out drinking but I'm not telling you!" ...

Now before anyone jumps down my throat and says that's not always the case and that there are sleepovers held all over the country every weekend that are completely innocent involving just a group of young people getting together and spending time with their friends, I completely agree. But from my perspective, however, these night-time get togethers are changing in many ways and because parents regard them as innocent and safe, they rarely question or challenge the information their child gives them and it isn't too long before a clever teen works out that this is a really easy way to get a…

Medical cannabis: Getting lost in the smoke and forgetting that the drug can be highly problematic for some

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Over the past year we have seen a very interesting change in the way we have been speaking about cannabis in Australia. The medical cannabis debate has hit the headlines and we have seen a major reframing of how we talk about this issue - all of a sudden it's all about children ... stories about very young children suffering greatly due to a range of conditions (but mostly epilepsy or conditions where seizures are involved) and how bureaucracies are preventing these very young people getting the 'medicine' they so urgently need. We have seen stories on all the tabloid current affairs shows, the News Ltd papers (usually very 'anti-drug') have covered this topic very aggressively and even Alan Jones has come out in support of making cannabis available for medical purposes ... You'd have to say that the airing of SBS's Insight program a couple of weeks ago really brought it all to a head, with the program going even one step further by asking viewers to take p…

When does school supervision stop and parenting begin?

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Over the years I have had many strange requests from parents when it comes to alcohol, parties and gatherings. I've been asked to do private consultations with the entire family (I'm not a counsellor or a psychologist so that's not going to happen), provide an intervention of some description (ditto!) and increasingly, speak to the school ... I have used the following email I received from a parent in a previous blog, but it's too good not to use again and clearly illustrates the growing trend of 'parents not wanting to be parents' and the blurring of lines between school supervision (or intervention) and parenting.

You visited my daughter's school a few weeks ago and I attended your Parent Evening. Thank you for the information you presented - it certainly caused lots of discussion at home. She is in Year 10 and we are having a few problems at the moment, particularly with regard to parties. I was wondering if you could do me a favour as we have a bit of a…

Why I don't (and won't) speak to Year 9s ...

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As most people know, I have a very specific way of speaking to young people when I visit a school. I could make a lot of money and make my life a lot easier by agreeing to just speak to students, but based on what we know works, I will only speak at a school if they agree to let me speak to all three sections of the school community - students (Years 10, 11 and 12), staff and the parents. The evidence around bringing outside speakers into a school to talk on alcohol and other drugs (or any issue to be perfectly truthful) is not good. So-called 'one-off' talks have not been found to be effective and there is even some evidence to suggest that they can cause more harm than good in some cases.

I cannot walk into a school and 'fix' a problem. I see my role as value-adding to the drug education that the school already provides and that my talks are part of an overall strategy. If I think for a second that a school is using me to 'tick-a-box' and say, "well that…