Schoolies warned not to be foolies
The AMA has urged young people celebrating the end of school to look after themselves and each other while having fun during the annual ‘schoolies’ festivities.
As teenagers from around the country converge on major holiday spots in Australia and overseas, AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton said the celebrations were a special time for school leavers, giving them an opportunity to relax and party after working hard under a lot of pressure.
But Dr Hambleton warned it was easy for what should be a happy occasion to quickly turn sour if celebrations got out of hand and people hurt themselves or others by drinking heavily, engaging in risky sexual behaviour, failing to cover up in the sun or posting photos and stories on social media that may be humiliating or hurtful.
“Marking the end of school and the beginning of a new stage of life should be about positive experiences and good memories, not accidents and misadventures,” the AMA President said. “If you’re over 18, it’s okay to enjoy a few alcoholic drinks with friends, but young people should not put themselves, their friends, or others at risk of alcohol-related harms.”
Heavy drinking impairs judgement and fuels impulsive behaviour, and is often associated with violence and dangerous acts, as well as risky sexual activities and potentially harmful social media use.
“Misuse of alcohol can lead to accident, injury and antisocial and embarrassing behaviour,” Dr Hambleton said. “Hasty decisions in the heat of the moment can lead to problems like sexually transmitted infections, [and] humiliating and harmful stories and images can be instantly circulated via smart phones and social media.”
The AMA President said it was important during Schoolies celebrations that people cared for one another.
“It is important to not only look after yourself, but also your mates,” he said. “If they’re drinking too much and acting inappropriately, let them know. If they are involved in a dangerous or risky situation, help them out or find someone who can.”
Dr Hambleton said that, in addition to these precautions, those travelling overseas to attend end of school celebrations need to be aware of additional risks such as serious infectious diseases and the possibility that drinks were being spiked with harmful substances like methanol, which is a a potentially deadly poison.