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RISKS YOUR CHILD IS TAKING Essay

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90614533THE RISKY BUSINESS BLOG

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RISKS YOUR CHILD IS TAKING

-1270017653000JENNI LIN – 16 SEPTEMBER 2019

34290293586600

304809525It is no recent news that your children are the most likely age group to partake in risky behaviour. Adolescence and young adulthood are commonly characterised by experimentation that often leads to risk taking with drugs, sexual activity and on the road. INCLUDEPICTURE ” * MERGEFORMATINET INCLUDEPICTURE ” * MERGEFORMATINET

00It is no recent news that your children are the most likely age group to partake in risky behaviour. Adolescence and young adulthood are commonly characterised by experimentation that often leads to risk taking with drugs, sexual activity and on the road. INCLUDEPICTURE ” * MERGEFORMATINET INCLUDEPICTURE ” * MERGEFORMATINET

The Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug survey (2014) showed that out of over 23,000 secondary school students, around 1 in 6 (16%) had taken cannabis before. Being peer pressured into doing drugs to fit into a specific social circle or to appear ‘cool’ is all too common in the new generation. A study conducted at Melbourne University on the 10 closest friendships of each subject showed that for every one of the individual’s friends who used cannabis, the probability that the subject uses cannabis increased by 4%. In today’s world, our children see drug use as part of the growing up process with their increased presence in social media. Taking drugs can alleviate depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses that are becoming increasingly prevalent in young Australians.

Additionally, a study conducted at UNSW (2019) found that 75% of sexually active young Australians aged 15 to 29 had sexual intercourse without condoms within the previous 12 months. Risky sexual behaviour can also relate to peer pressure. Sexual activity at a young age is now seen as common, and many young Australians are pressured into partaking in sexual activity to fit in. Taking risks during sexual intercourse (like partaking in unprotected sex) occurs due to inexperience or thrill-seeking.

Finally, taking risks on the road is also common in your children- drivers younger than 25 are the most likely group to be in a fatal car accident. From

2014-2015, 15% of car crash fatalities were of men under 25, while 5% were of females of the same age group. Drink driving is common due to inexperience and thrill-seeking tendencies. Risky behaviour like speeding because of inexperience is also prevalent in young Australians. Young drivers are also very susceptible to being distracted or pressured by peers in the car with them to speed or partake in risky driving.

An internal factor that your child may be influenced by when making decisions concerning risks could be self-exploration. During these formative years without the security of childhood, youths are curious and want to establish their own identity by exploring unknown territory. This curiosity can be positive, but sometimes, leads to risky behaviour like experimenting with drugs, alcohol and unprotected sex. Many young people are be curious about their sexuality, an important aspect of their identity, or about sexual activity in general, and decide to partake in sexual activity to discover more about themselves. However, combined with inexperience and excitement, their curiosity can often lead to risky unprotected sex, resulting in STIs or unintended pregnancy. A strategy you can adopt to help your child navigate this time of self-discovery without taking harmful risks is to encourage them to take risks in a positive and creative field. You could take your child to the theatre, art classes, or even sign them up for a new sport to promote the exploration of new experiences, interests and hobbies. By pointing your child towards healthy risks, your child can still find their identity and satiate their internal curiosity without partaking in negative risk-taking.

An external factor that comes as no surprise is peer pressure. While its natural for your child to be influenced by their peers in a positive way, peer pressure can also affect your child’s risk taking, directly or indirectly. Lines like “Oh come on, it’s just a little drink- everyone else is having one”, put immense pressure on young people to fit in and conform with the rest of their peers. At such an easily influenced age, most adolescents and young adults find it hard to refuse and be judged by their friends. Furthermore, if all of their friends are participating in risk-taking like smoking or sexual intercourse, your child may believe that it’s okay to take potentially harmful risks as all their friends are doing it and they are too scared to resist. Young people often make decisions that they might not otherwise do under the influence and pressure of their peers. Teaching your child how to say ‘no’ is a strategy that can possibly minimise the effects of peer pressure. It is all too common for young people to not refuse partaking in risky behaviour like drinking out of fear of losing a friendship. At home, you should allow your child to refuse doing something without initiating consequences. If children are taught that they are allowed to refuse without being punished or scolded, it is likely that when they grow up, they will be able to abstain from being peer pressured into doing things they are uncomfortable with.

WILL DRUG USE CONTINUE ALBEIT PILL TESTING?

1778018478500JENNI LIN – 16 SEPTEMBER 2019

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Over the past year, several deaths have already occurred during Australian festivals due to drug overdose. This raises the questions- should pill testing be nationally accepted and if so, will drug use continue even with its implementation? If your child has ever attended a music festival it is likely that they have come into contact with an illicit drug before. The issue is that currently, illegal drugs are being consumed at festivals and Australians as young as your children are being killed from drug overdose.

Pill testing does have a negative effect as it allows the continuance of drug use is that by doing so, we are providing an arguably ‘safe’ and acceptable way for your children to consume harmful and illegal drugs. Mick Fuller, the NSW Police Commissioner said he believes that advocates want to ‘legalise drugs by stealth’ by introducing pill testing. Initiating pill testing could potentially provide an outlet that allows young festival goers to take drugs without any consequences, thus allowing drug use to continue. It’s true that pill testing is protecting consumers from getting hospitalised from drugs, but by doing so, just encourages the invincibility complex that many young people are all too familiar with. Afterall, just because an ecstasy pill is confirmed not to have any toxic fillers doesn’t mean the pill is any less dangerous or addictive.

23876752475024130754380‘‘We do not support a culture that says it is okay to take illegal drugs, and I am worried about the number of people who attend these events who think it is okay to take illegal drugs,’’

00‘‘We do not support a culture that says it is okay to take illegal drugs, and I am worried about the number of people who attend these events who think it is okay to take illegal drugs,’’

Another concern that arises around pill testing is whether or not doing so will send the wrong message. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian believes that pill testing will lull young people into a false sense of security.

Pill testing is controversial as it could potentially

lead to our children believing that if their pills are confirmed not to be toxic, them taking drugs is safe and okay. Pill testing can have a negative effect if doing so is giving our children the green light to consume illegal substances at festivals.

However, Professor Ritter from UNSW claims that, in fact, pill testing does the opposite and actually warn users of the dangers of drugs. Pill testing, according to the professor, is about targeting and help mitigating the risks for people who already have the intention to partake in the consumption of drugs, so doing so won’t create new users. “You are advised even before anything starts that if you want to be 100 per cent certain about not being hurt by drugs, you should not use any drugs,” states Dr Caldicott, the leader of Australia’s first pill-testing trial in 2018. Furthermore, even if their drug is confirmed not to have any toxic ‘fillers’, patrons are not told that their drug is safe at any stage and after testing their pills, patrons must see a drug and alcohol counsellor who informs them on the risk they are about to take, as well as how reduce them. A survey conducted in a festival at New York (2018) reported that around 54% of ecstasy users claimed they would be less likely to take the drug again if their pills were tested to contain ‘bath salts’ or methamphetamine. Furthermore, in the UK (2016), survey results showed that among festival goers who were mis-sold drugs, two thirds decided to not take the drug and hand it over. Having pill testing may be good for our children when they attend festivals as they warn them of the danger of consumption.

A positive effect of pill testing is that they provide a newfound opportunity for possible intervention before addiction. As patrons must communicate with counsellors during the process, pill testing allows these drug help services reach a usually inaccessible population of unproblematic, but high-risk drug users and prevent them from getting addicted by offering their advice and counsel. This means that pill testing will result in decreased drug use as interventions can be staged in advance, following the ‘prevention not cure’ idiom.

My personal opinion is that pill testing should be allowed in Australia. I believe that it is nearly impossible to stop people from taking drugs completely and that there will always be people who are willing to take the risk for a thrill. Pill testing can help them do so in a safer way, while allowing the potential for an intervention. I believe that pill testing can reduce drug use in festivals as trials in other countries have shown that people are less likely to consume drugs ever again if their pills have been discovered to be toxic.

Bibliography

Australian Government Department of Health. (2019). Drug trends and statistics. Retrieved 10 September from of Health & Human Services. (2017). Drugs and teenagers. Retrieved 10 September from B. (2018). Young drivers on NSW roads the most at risk, and the most dangerous. Retrieved 11 September from P. (2012). Peer pressure key to drug use. Retrieved 10 September from ce/peer-pressure-key-to-drug-use/news-story/8bf6a2 01c01e365c31c5b8dc8ea0c8a7.

Lyons, A. (2019). State of play: For and against pill testing. Retrieved 12 September from J. (2015). Why Are Teen Brains Designed for Risk-taking? Retrieved 11 September from F.C. (2018). Drug safety testing, disposals and dealing in an English field: Exploring the operational and behavioural outcomes of the UK’s first onsite ‘drug checking’ service. Retrieved 12 September from O. (2019). Six claims about pill testing — and whether or not they’re true. Retrieved 12 September from

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