Keep your teenagers safe

Teenagers are learning to be responsible for their own safety. Clear guidelines are a sign of your love. Talk to your teenagers and be sure to always know what they are doing. Your teenagers are meeting new situations every week, so it’s essential to keep talking with them.

Teach your teenagers how to cope with stress. Walking, sport, music and talking about problems can all be effective.

Encourage your teenager to ignore peer pressure if they do not want to do something or they feel uncomfortable. Watch out for the signs that your child may be getting bullied. School teachers or counsellors can help you with this.

Know where your children are and who they are with. Make sure you can contact one another at any time. Set curfews, for example "be home by ten o'clock".

Tell your children to refuse invitations from people they don't know. Remind them not to get into a car with anyone they don't know.

If your teenager babysits, meet the employers and check all arrangements carefully.

Road safety

Teenagers may know how to drive but they lack experience. Protect them by setting clear rules for when they drive. Set a good example with your own driving habits.

Attending an approved driving skills programme is worthwhile. Drivers learn how to identify and avoid or handle potential driving hazards. Passing an approved driving course also reduces the time needed to stay on a restricted licence.

When your children go out, check transport arrangements. If necessary take your children and bring them home, no matter how inconvenient. Teach them never to ride with a driver who has been drinking.

Teenagers and alcohol

Most young people are exposed to alcohol. Many use alcohol to deal with stress, frustration and conflict, or as a result of peer pressure. Yet too much alcohol only makes these problems worse.

Parents have a hard job too. You know the dangers of too much alcohol – fights, car crashes and inappropriate behaviour. But teenagers often reject your advice.

Respect your teenager's opinion, but be honest and firm. Discuss alcohol with your teenagers, set some clear rules together and stick to them. A moderate approach is best – not too strict and not too easy-going.

If you think your teenager has a drug or alcohol problem, contact the Alcohol Drug Helpline 0800 787 797.

If a teenager is unconscious or vomiting continuously put them on their side with their head turned to one side (the recovery position) and dial 111 for an ambulance.

Parties and teenagers

Parties are part of teenage (and adult) life in New Zealand. There are things you as a parent can do to reduce the chance of things going wrong.

Set ground rules when your teenager wants to go to a party. Sit down and agree to some conditions. These conditions will obviously depend on their age and your own values. As an example, you might set a limit on the amount of alcohol (if any) your teenager can drink.

Contact the host’s parents and check on details such as supervision, time, location and arrangements regarding alcohol and transport. Your son or daughter may give you a rough time about this, but it is worth persisting. Tell your teenager that if things get out of control at the party you will always arrange to get them home safely. Talk about the kinds of things that might happen.

They need to be prepared if:

  • the person who was to drive them home is drunk
  • there is violence or drugs at the party
  • they are feeling threatened or frightened.

Safety tips

  • Tell your teenagers they can phone you at any time and you will come and pick them up.
  • If they don’t have a mobile phone, give them a phone card or get a Home 0800 number so that they can ring you from any phone, even if they have no money.
  • Give them some emergency money so they can get a taxi home.
  • Organise a car pool with the parents of your teenager’s friends.

Hosting parties with or for your teenager

If you and your teenager are hosting their party, sit down and agree to some rules and make some decisions in advance of the party.  

  • Who is coming, including how many?
  • How they will be invited?
  • Will alcohol be provided? If so, how much and what kind?
  • What other drinks, food etc will be available?
  • How will you deal with alcohol brought by guests?
  • Who will serve the drinks?
  • What time will the party finish?
  • How will guests get home?
  • Will some guests stay over?
  • Adult supervision – how will this be done and by whom?
  • How will gatecrashers be handled?

Adult supervision is critical at teenage parties. Make sure it is visible but not intrusive. For example the teenagers could be in the garage while the adults are in the lounge. You may ask that all the guests come through the front door first so that you know who is there. Gatecrashers can be a problem. To prevent this happening some parents hire security staff or ask a responsible and sober adult relative to deal with uninvited guests. Set a finish time for the party and have a group of adults work together to wind it up – this can involve other parents coming to pick up their own kids.

For more information on hosting safe parties visit the ALAC (Alcohol Advisory Council) section of the Health Promotion Agency website.