Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, is urging parents to discuss alcohol use and misuse with their children from an early age as part of efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of underage drinking.
“With open, respectful communication and explanation of boundaries and expectations, parents can continue to influence their children’s decisions well into adolescence and beyond. This is especially important in young people’s decisions regarding whether and how to drink, which can have lifelong consequences,” she noted.
Minister Williams was addressing Thursday’s (December 3) virtual launch of the D&G Foundation’s ‘Enjoy Responsibly Day’, which, among other things, aims to raise awareness about alcohol misuse.
Mrs. Williams hailed the initiative’s focus on responsible parenting in preventing misuse of alcohol by minors.
This includes having open, honest conversations with children and setting good examples regarding their own alcohol use and response to underage drinking.
“Some parents may wonder whether allowing their children to drink in the home will help them develop an appropriate relationship with alcohol. Collectively, the literature suggests that a permissive attitude to adolescence drinking, particularly when combined with poor communication and unhealthy modelling, can lead teens into unhealthy relationships with alcohol,” Mrs. Williams said.
She further encouraged parents to use positive non-violent parenting practices when disciplining their children and reminded them that discipline is about guiding and teaching children and not about punishment, anger or threatening words.
Chairman, Spirits Pool Association of Jamaica and Chairman of J. Wray and Nephew, Clement ‘Jimmy’ Lawrence said the industry is committed to discouraging, if not eliminating, the purchase and consumption of alcohol by minors, drinking and driving and excessive consumption or bingeing on alcohol.
“Let us encourage our parents to stop the practice of giving children a little taste or sending them to the bar to make a purchase. This must stop,” he said.
Head of Corporate Affairs, Red Stripe, Dianne Ashton-Smith, for his part, emphasized that parents have an important role to play in reducing underage drinking and encouraging their children to make responsible choices.
“The home is where primary learning takes place and so, if we want to experience an improved future, education needs to start there because parents are key to shaping the next generation,” she said, adding that they have a significant role to play in becoming change agents.
She informed that a multisectoral approach will be undertaken to “drive a new culture of intolerance to underage access to alcohol”.