Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The 'Schoolies' Week' phenomenon

It's that time of year that many parents dread - the lead-up to 'Schoolies' Week' (or 'Leavers' Week' as it is known in WA). Last week Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr issued a warning to Schoolies travelling overseas that if they break the law consular staff can't "rescue them if they are arrested". It was a great move by the Australian Government in my opinion but I doubt very much if it will have any great effect on those young people who choose to go overseas for Schoolies' celebrations.

You only need to take a look at a story that ran on Channel Ten's 'The Project' in response to the DFA's warning to realize what we are up against. If you go to the following link the story on Schoolies travelling overseas begins at 2min.20sec. The interview with the two young women who are planning to travel to Bali is quite disturbing. When asked why they chose to go overseas they make it clear that it is to avoid the laws around alcohol as they will be underage and that the purpose of the trip is to get drunk ... I know that it is extremely difficult to stop young people from attending Schoolies' Week events but any parent who believes that it is safer for their child to travel overseas to party rather than make the pilgrimage to the Gold Coast, Byron, Rottnest or Victor Harbour truly have their heads in the sand!

Of course you have to let your child experience life and they are going to make mistakes. Some parents have said to me that their child is planning to take a 'gap year' and that they see the overseas Schoolies' Week as a 'controlled' introduction to that experience. Are they nuts? The attraction for many young people to travel overseas for Schoolies is that they are not subject to laws around underage drinking - they want to drink, and drink a lot! Days of partying hard with a large number of other young people with a similar mindset. A 'gap year' of travelling is very different - I'm sure partying hard is part of the attraction for some but realistically you can't maintain that lifestyle for long (you'd also need a lot of money!) ...

I am certainly seeing a move away from Schoolies - a growing number of Year 12 students are choosing alternate activities and parents are getting smarter, offering their teens other potentially 'safer' options in an effort to tempt them away from the usual holiday destinations. Certainly young adults should be able to celebrate their school achievements but isn't it sad that some believe alcohol has to play such a major part?

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