school formals

School formals – should parents supply booze?

Today’s GrogWatch features a guest post from Paul Dillon, Director and Founder of Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia (DARTA).

Pre- and post- school formal parties (often referred to as ‘pres’ and ‘afters’) have become almost an essential part of the high school experience in recent times. These events are usually put on by parents, many of whom are willing to supply alcohol to the partygoers, regardless of their age.

I have seen many of the notes that parents have put together regarding the provision of alcohol at these events. Some are truly frightening, clearly demonstrating that these people have no idea of how much alcohol they are suggesting these young people consume.

The notes usually provide some basic information about the proposed evening and have a permission slip attached that parents are required to sign to ensure that their child is allowed to drink, so the parents putting on the event are legally covered.

One note stated that the Year 11s and 12s (some just 16-years-old) attending the after-party would be supplied a maximum of 3 UDL cans each! At the very least we’re talking about almost 4 standard drinks, with the possibility of maybe much, much more! How can anyone in their right mind think that this is an appropriate amount of alcohol for young people of that age?

Then there is the ridiculous practice of having pre-formal drinks (I’ve heard of these even being held for Year 10s – 15-year-olds). Now we have a situation where the school formal has developed into an event that is often sandwiched between two social gatherings where alcohol is available usually provided by parents. And please don’t give me that ridiculous argument that it is “only a glass of champagne” at the ‘pre’.

No matter how much alcohol you are providing, you are then sending an adolescent off to a school event, supervised by teachers, and asking them to now look after your alcohol-affected child! It’s insane and totally irresponsible.

Why should teachers be expected to supervise teens who have been drinking any amount of alcohol? There are just too many risks involved…

I totally get that some Year 12s are 18-year-olds and legally allowed to drink alcohol, but why is it necessary for parents to feel the need to hold events around a school formal that are based around drinking?

There are so many other opportunities for these young people to drink – their final year of school is usually the year of the 18th and ‘Schoolies’ is just around the corner for many of them. Couldn’t the formal be an event where young people are provided the message that you don’t need to drink to have a good time?


This is an edited version of a post which first appeared on Paul’s blog Doing Drugs with Paul Dillon. You can follow his Facebook page here.


GrogWatch wants to hear about your experiences about alcohol and school formals. Have you hosted a school formal ‘pre’ or ‘after’ party? Would you supply alcohol if you did?