Parenting dilemmas: Should I let my kid go to Schoolies?

School’s almost out for year 12 students – which means it’s time for the celebrations to begin. Here’s how to get through Schoolies Week without major headaches. 

It’s that annual rite of passage for school leavers across Australia.

For a week in November, thousands of teenagers celebrate the end of their school years by partying with their friends.

Many head for the beaches and nightclubs of Queensland or Byron Bay, some venture further afield to destinations like Fiji and Bali, while others stay with friends closer to home.

But the week of sometimes wild celebrations can cause parents plenty of headaches and stress.

“Safety is the number one concern for parents,” says Associate Professor Julie Green, executive director of the Raising Children Network.

“They worry about their child being separated from their friends, being caught up in fights and they worry about excessive drinking and drug taking.

“They worry about unsafe or unwanted sex and it’s normal to be worried about all those things because Schoolies comes at a time when a young person craves greater independence and wants to spend increasing amounts of time with their peers.”

What can parents to do try and support their teenager to have a safe Schoolies experience?

Talk to our child – early and often

“Young people plan Schoolies for months so have early conversations and build on the negotiations and safety arrangements you already have with your teenagers,” says Julie.

Show you understand your teenager’s perspective

“Let your child know that you understand they want to celebrate their achievements.”

“That understanding can resonate with teenagers – they see that you really want them to enjoy themselves but with some boundaries around safety,” says Julie.

Put the issues you are worried about on the table

Ask your teenagers what they see as possible risks and talk about ways of seeking help.

Suggest if they go that they register with a Schoolies organisation that monitors events and that they only attend organised events.

Talk about staying in touch

“Have contact details of your child’s friends or their parents so you aren’t solely reliant on communication with your child,” says Julie.

“Let them know how often you expect them to get in touch and remind them they can contact you at any time.”

Set boundaries

“Teenagers often rely on promises they make to parents, or their parents’ rules, to explain to friends why they can’t do certain things, or why they need to leave early or limit drinks,” says Julie.

“Parents can be a great excuse for young people to manage certain situations.”

Written by Sarah Marinos.