End of Year and End of School — Some Forward Planning
Many parents and students will have had conversations about the end of the school year, and for older students, holidays that include spending time away from family with friends. Some plans will have already been made and solidified – others are yet to be finalised. The following information is offered by way of support for parents who wish to draw boundaries around their son’s leisure time NOW to promote safety and wellbeing:
We know that the brain is still developing until a person’s early 20s. We also know that in Australia, those young people who are permitted to drink socially, at the family table and at family functions, are the ones who are more likely to abuse alcohol when they are older (we probably don’t like to hear that, but it’s true). We often think of alcohol as a ‘social lubricant’ and an essential and socially acceptable accompaniment to most gatherings, and therefore, fairly inoffensive. But it IS a drug! Many young people tend to ‘pre-load’ before attending an event, drink a little at the venue (due to costs), and then hang out at a nominated person’s place to continue drinking. Holidays and end of year functions at which alcohol is present represent a real danger to young people’s health and wellbeing. Parents have the right and power to make a stand against that which is potentially harmful and injurious.
It is difficult for young people in the senior reaches of all schools to attend functions where they are not able to participate in taking a variety of drugs. Some of the more recent drugs that are produced cheaply and so are readily available (e.g. ice) have devastating effects on young people’s physical, emotional and psychological health. ‘Lesser’ drugs, including the imagined ‘acceptable’ drug, marijuana, are toxic. Traces of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, can be found in a young person’s brain up to 3 months after they have imbibed. This is dynamite for a developing brain! It is also well recognised that marijuana is one of the gateway drugs to other, more harmful substances.
The rise in STIs among young people continues. Young people need to be made aware, not just by schools, but also by parents, that STIs are a risk-factor in casual, unprotected sex. There is a plethora of information available online and in brochures from places such as doctors and chemists. This information is useful to have in the home in the event that your young person engages in sexual activity.
These issues — alcohol, other drugs and sex — are ones that are real and more common than some may believe. They are awkward issues for parents to discuss with young people; but they are important issues. Most parents would still claim that they have ‘control’ over their older teens – and so they also have the ability to say a firm ‘no’ to their sons when they suggest they go to places or involve themselves in behaviour which can easily be tagged as high-risk. Part of effective, strong parenting is the preparedness to say “no”. And the boys expect it!
The Importance of Family Time
Have you ever noticed how unusual it is to see a family out together? In my work, I gather that many boys’ experience of family is the ‘passing ship’ experience – that is – for the greater part of the busy year, family members see each other in the family home where each person is doing very much their own thing. On weekends, young people tend to head out to other friends’ places and parents busy themselves with a variety of other tasks and pleasures. Some ‘taxi-parents’ are dedicated to ferrying their children to many and varied parts of Melbourne.
Parents want a good, solid and developing relationship with their sons. This can really only come about if there is dedicated time to develop the relationship.
- Where time is very limited by circumstance, why not start with a dedicated day of the week where all family members sit down to a family meal, and make this an ongoing feature of the way your family operates.
- Take a family day once per month, where you move from familiar surroundings and explore.
- Take just one child away at a time for the day: do a common activity, visit a place in which you both have some interest, share a meal together.
- Do high energy, adrenalin-inducing ‘boy’ things — what about car racing, rock climbing, sailing — or lower energy things such as camping, fishing or construction.
- Share an interest with your son. How much do you know about gaming and online activities? He will (probably) be an expert. Let him teach you and participate.
All these things take time and effort. They probably also represent a degree of inconvenience and even awkwardness. But the time that you spend with your son is priceless and will reap the most wonderful rewards.
All the best,
Mr Pascal Rohan,
Director of Student Wellbeing
Lord Somers EmPOWERme Program
Whilst the weather was wild outside, the Powerhouse building along Albert Park Lake played host to around 100 students from schools around Melbourne. Tuesday 9 September saw five Year 10 De La Salle students attend the emPOWERme Lord Somers program. An entirely youth led event, the interactive whole day workshop sought to engage students with a variety of topics that would help them to reflect on their future aspirations. The theme grounding the day was ‘Life under construction’.
Some guest speakers presented on social justice issues such as the plight of asylum seekers, whilst others called for students to consider their values and the foundations they’re built on. Students were challenged to re-evaluate stereotypes after listening to Jason Ball’s experience of being gay whilst playing Aussie rules football, and a session about goal-setting ended the day’s formalities. Students also took part in small group sessions to discuss the concepts explored in each presentation at a more personal level. Of course there were also the games, such as giant jenga and Who sir? Me sir?, which was certainly loud and lively.
The day gave students reassurance and courage that they can take control and play a part in building their future and be empowered.
Ms Olivia Wenczel,
College Leader Coordinator