ALCOHOL AND FESTIVALS OFTEN GO HAND IN HAND. Alcohol is a natural part of going to a festival for many people. A number of festivals are also sponsored by alcohol producers, thereby signalling that alcohol and festivals go hand in hand.
Drinking alcohol is often prohibited in the stage areas, but beer, wine, and drinks are sold in different enclosures which implement age limits and checks. But that doesn’t mean that they are the only places where you’ll find people who’ve been drinking. There are a lot of drunken people moving around the stage areas, and alcohol also tends to be close at hand in the camping areas with no one keeping an eye on the young people there.
"I’d never be allowed to go to a festival. They’re full of drunks and anything could happen".
Moa, aged 15, Umeå
FIND OUT WHAT THE RULES ARE
Every festival has different rules about age limits and alcohol. Find out what the rules are for the festival that your teenager wants to go to. There are also a lot of drug-free events organised specifically for young people.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Make sure that your teenager has a mobile phone with them or can be contacted in another way. Mobile coverage can sometimes be flaky when there are lots of people in the same place, and teenagers’ phone batteries also seem to have the ability to discharge in no time at all. Loud music can also make it hard to hear the phone ring, so it can be a good idea to agree on times when you can be in touch.
"My parents want me to tell them everything. But they’d have a heart attack if I did".
Isa, aged 15, Umeå
TALK ABOUT THE RISKS BEFOREHAND
Prepare your teenager for the risks in and around the festival. It’s not just about the fact that there will be alcohol and people who are intoxicated: there are large numbers of people in the same place at festivals and it’s hard for security personnel to keep an eye on everything that’s happening. Talk about the sort of things that your teenager may encounter there, such as sexual approaches or harassment, drugs, violence, and theft.
MAKE IT EASIER FOR THEM TO SAY, “NO”
Help your teenager by giving them reasons not to drink. Be clear where you stand and what your concerns are. Your teenager may choose to drink anyway, but studies show that what you say does matter in terms of what happens.
If you don’t want to let your teenager go to a festival by themselves, why not suggest you go with them? It could be a fun, shared experience, and good for your relationship. You don’t have to tag along with them everywhere they go, but you being there can act as a safety net in case something happens.
HAVE THE COURAGE TO SAY NO
Don’t let your teenager go to a festival just because everyone else is allowed to go. Many parents are worried about their teenagers being excluded from their social group if they don’t go, but it’s by no means certain that this will be the case. No one – however old they are – can do everything, and it might be useful to learn this at an early age.