When other people’s kids are in trouble

What do you do if you suspect or find out that another teenager is drinking, is unhappy, or that their situation at home is unstable? How can you help? Here are a few suggestions.


If your teenager tells you something about a friend and you don’t think it’s right to keep quiet about it, you need to explain why. It’s not about telling tales: it’s about caring. Your teenager has chosen to tell you so they’re probably hoping, in their heart of hearts, that you’ll do something. Tell them what you’re intending to do and why, so that they don’t feel you’re breaking a confidence.

Why should I tell my parents about things that involve my friends? They're not my parents friends, after all.

Nadia, aged 16, Gothenburg


If you’re worried about a teenager, get help from other adults. Start by getting in touch with the teenager’s parents, as long as the concern doesn’t relate to something the parents are doing. If that’s the case, or if they don’t act on your concerns, try contacting the school’s Guidance Officer or the Social Services. You can also call the Social Services and discuss your concerns without having to give the child’s name. After the discussion, you might feel better about doing something yourself or reporting your concerns to the Social Services, who will then be tasked with investigating the child’s situation.

The important thing is that someone does something. No teenager should have to suffer without an adult noticing or caring what happens. 

If I had a friend who drank a lot, I’d tell my parents. But I don’t think they’d do anything.

Nellie, aged 15, Gothenburg


At some point in their childhood, one in every five children in Sweden will experience having a parent with alcohol problems. The environment for children living in a family where one or more adults drinks too much is often a vulnerable and unpredictable one. There is an increased risk that the child will have poorer health, problems with social relationships, and of their educational outcomes deteriorating.

It can be difficult to know what to do and how you can best support children and young people who are having a hard time at home. But remember that you don’t have to solve all of the problems in one go.

Just being there for them as a secure adult can make a big difference, and simple actions can mean a lot – things like asking how their day went, setting an extra plate at the table, or offering them a lift home from training. 


It can be a good idea to share your thoughts and concerns with other adults who have experience of supporting children. There are also a number of different organisations who are used to talking both to teenagers and parents. You’ll find some suggestions on this page. 

More to read about the same topic

Useful contacts and more info

It can sometimes be good to talk to someone who knows a bit more about teenagers and alcohol, or about anything else, for that matter.

If you want to do more

There’s a lot you can do to support and be there for teenagers. Maybe you can take part in night-time patrols, or make it easier for them to say “no”, or help promote a smarter approach to alcohol in some other way.

Other important topics to read about

When parents are not around

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