Showing posts from April, 2013

Normalising 'bad behaviour'

Watching the 'Binge drinking crisis' piece on 'A Current Affair' during the week (before you ask, I had to, it's part of my job!), many would believe that we now have more young people drinking than ever before and almost all of them go out every weekend and get absolutely smashed! If you believe what you read in the papers and see on the TV (and why would you ever do that?), most young people have also used illicit drugs at some stage or another. In fact, all the evidence that we have says just the opposite. Most illicit drug use is now at lower rates in Australia than it was in the 1990s, with the exception of cocaine and ecstasy, and most school-based young people see drug use as pretty ‘uncool’. At a time when our younger generation are getting a ‘bad rap’ from the media it is important that we maintain some perspective. When it comes to alcohol use, the latest ASSAD survey of school-based young people showed that we have growing numbers of students who cl

Blue Star tattoos - another urban myth

I have been totally blown away by the number of people who have accessed my blog through the entry on 'Strawberry Quik' - the urban myth around methamphetamine supposedly flavoured to entice young people. The Facebook warning pops up occasionally via someone's page and thank goodness some sensible people are going to the web to try and access some accurate information. Another urban myth that I thought was long gone was around the so-called 'Blue Star' tattoo. Stories about drug manufacturers and dealers targeting very young children have been around for many years. The ‘Blue Star’ tattoo myth is possibly the most famous of these and goes back to 1980, although some say the story was circulating earlier than that. There was a time when I was responding to queries about this every couple of months, particularly in the late 1990s, but over the last few years it seemed to have gone quiet - that is until this week when I was contacted by a journalist who had hea

Connect, connect, connect: How to best ensure your teen gets through adolescence as safely as possible

Last week a principal got up after a Parent Information Evening that I had just presented at his school and started by saying "I think I have learnt two main things as a parent tonight - 'delay, delay, delay' and 'connect, connect, connect'!" I've been summarised many times before but I don't think it has ever been done so succinctly and in such a positive way. The 'delay' message is of course around trying to prevent an adolescent's alcohol use for as long as possible and is one that I have written about in my blog entries a number of times. 'Connecting' with young people is something I feel very passionately about and is the final tip I give to parents in my presentation. I ask them to think about the last time they really connected with their child, not just talked to them, but really spoke and listened – no other family members, no mobile phone, television or other distractions? For some of them, particularly the parents of ad

'Synthetic cannabis': What is it and should parents be worried?

Speaking at as many schools as I do each year, it isn't difficult to identify emerging alcohol and other drug trends amongst school-based young people. In the middle of last year growing numbers of students began to start asking about 'legal cannabis' and the questions haven't really stopped since then ... sadly, I've also been contacted by others who have used these products, sometimes only once, and have experienced significant problems, sometimes even resulting in hospitalisation. Here is an example of one of the emails I have received, this time from a 15 year old young man who had heard me present at his school the previous day but was concerned that I wasn't covering 'synthetic marijuana' in my talks and wanted to share his story with me ... "i have had a very very, bad experience with the synthetic marijuana known as kronic, which can be easily purchased ... by anyone ... Since my experience with the drug (first time ive taken any drug

Separated parents with different views on alcohol: What can you do?

We know that parents are an incredibly important influence on their child's views around alcohol and when they set their minds to it they can make a real difference when it comes to their alcohol consumption. Read any parenting book and it will tell you that the key to success in any area is that there needs to be a consistent message on the issue. This is certainly the case with alcohol. It is quite clear that if a young person gets mixed messages from his parents then it's going to be far more difficult for him/her to develop positive attitudes towards alcohol. Parents, if at all possible, must try to work out the rules and boundaries they both think are appropriate, as well as the consequences if these are broken. It is important that once the rules and boundaries are agreed on, that neither party 'gives in'. If there are differences of opinion regarding the provision of alcohol, these differences and each parent's expectations should be openly discussed, wit