A hard-hitting campaign aimed at encouraging parents to always know where their children are, what they are doing and who they are with, was launched across the Borough last week by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) and PSNI.
Organised by the PCSP, the ‘Where is your child tonight?’ campaign shows the image of a young girl slumped on the pavement with a bottle of alcohol in her hand – and parents are asked to think about what could happen next.
The idea behind the campaign is to encourage all parents to talk to their children and empower them to make the right choices about alcohol and to communicate the many risks and potential consequences of drinking, taking drugs and getting involved in anti-social behaviour.
In Northern Ireland, over half of young people aged between 11 and 16 say they have had an alcoholic drink at some point in their lives.
This campaign is urging parents to communicate with their children, find out where they really are when they hang out, what they are doing and who they are with.
Tips for ensuring your child is safe and sound include; staying in contact via mobile and checking with other parents, meeting their friends, giving them a curfew and making sure transport has been arranged for them to get home safely.
Many people may not know that one in ten young people who have drunk alcohol have ended up in trouble with the police and that alcohol can make your child more likely to be the victim of a violent assault or other crimes.
It has also been found that the younger people are when they drink, the more likely they are to be a victim of violence, vulnerable to injuries from accidents, use other drugs and have unwanted or unsafe sexual activity.
Councillor Maire Cairns, Chair of the PCSP said: “There are a number of hot spot areas across the borough where young people tend to congregate and we are working hard with the PSNI to try and alleviate these issues – but we also need the help of parents.
“We would encourage you, as parents, to please know where your child is going when they head out, who they are with and what they are doing.
“We also have a leaflet called ‘Drugs & Alcohol: The Facts’ which is a vital resource in helping you as a parent minimise the risks alcohol could have in your child’s life.
“It also makes parents think about how their drinking can influence their children and how to agree boundaries regarding alcohol.”
Inspector Brian Mills, PSNI added: “Underage drinking damages the health of young people, creates problems in our communities and encourages Anti- Social Behaviour.
“We ask that parents talk to their children and remain aware of their social activities. In the coming months we will be focusing on the hotspot areas across the borough. We need parents to help us keep their children safe.”
If you would like a copy of the booklet, please contact Lynette Cooke on 028 3831 2529.