Health chiefs are urging parents in Brighton and Hove to remind their children about the risks of exam binge drinking.
The call comes as hundreds of youngsters find out their A-level results today with hundreds more learning their GCSE results next Thursday (25 August).
Many will be celebrating and some drowning their sorrows.
Brighton and Hove City Teaching Primary Care Trust (PCT) – also known as NHS Brighton and Hove – said that parents should be aware of what their children were doing to celebrate.
It said that they should warn them of the dangers of drinking too much, of underage drinking and especially of the serious danger of combining drink and drugs.
The PCT – now working under the umbrella of NHS Sussex – said that Drinkaware carried out a study at exam results time last year.
It showed that more than a third of parents said that they would prefer their children to get alcohol from them rather than an unknown source.
It also found that a fifth said that they bought alcohol for their children so that they could keep track of how much they drank.
But a third of parents of 16 and 17-year-olds said that they had no idea what their children got up to when they were drinking.
Further results showed that 41 per cent knew that their child had had a bad drinking experience.
Twenty per cent of parents were aware that their child had been involved in an accident and 21 per cent were aware that they had had unprotected sex when drinking.
And 79 per cent knew that their child had been sick.
Sue Carmichael, public health lead for alcohol on behalf of NHS Sussex, said: “Lots of young people will want to mark the end of their exams with a celebration and we hope they do.
“But what we want to avoid is young people putting them at risk of harm because of how they celebrate.
“Young people being admitted to A&E because they have drunk too much alcohol or getting into a fight after too much drink is not how the majority of young people would want to celebrate. Yet that is what can happen.
“Parents have a huge influence on their children’s attitude to alcohol, often without realising it.
“Although it may not seem like it sometimes, research has shown that teenagers would rather get advice on drinking from their mum and dad than anyone else.
“So we are asking parents across Sussex to take this opportunity and time of celebration to make sure their children know how to avoid the dangers of too much alcohol.”
In Brighton and Hove, the safe and well schools survey showed that 55 per cent of young people aged 14 -16 who were surveyed said that they did occasionally drink alcohol to get drunk.
Ms Carmichael said: “We know that the younger someone starts drinking, the greater the impact that alcohol will have on their health and wellbeing in the future.
“Drinking regularly to excess means teenagers are more at risk of developing serious health problems, including liver disease and cancers as they get older.
“In the short term risks include violence, injury and those to their sexual health.
“Everyone has a part to play, parents, friends, bar staff, retailers – we can all set a good example so that young people learn how to drink responsibly and sensibly.”
Advice for parents includes
- Be a positive role model. Adults should drink within the daily recommended guidelines (3 to 4 units a day for men and 2 to 3 units for women).
- Introduce the topic early – the average age for young people to have their first alcoholic drink is 13.
- Don’t make alcohol a taboo subject – ensure your child can talk freely with you about alcohol. If you’re not sure how to start the conversation, soap operas or news stories can provide a useful trigger.
- If your child does get drunk, try not to overreact – talk to them about it the next morning. Listen to what they have to say and try to understand their situation.