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So, what are we to do?


7 August 2020

So, what are we to do?

So, what are we to do?

In recent weeks there has been an increase in the number of gatherings of students on weekends.

This was to be expected given the emergence from lockdown, the easing of restrictions and of course the age and stage of some our students. Our adolescents will, like any other group of teenagers in mainstream Australia, wish to experiment and explore as part of their perceived rite of passage into adulthood. This is the age where they are turning to each other for support and choices. As the parents and the significant adults in their lives we are consigned to giving timely advice, reflection and consideration of how behaviours may change – especially if there is the use of alcohol, illicit substances or engagement in sexual behaviours. Of course, the irresponsible use of technologies often exacerbates the negatives of the aforementioned behaviours.

So, what are WE to do?

Together we are able to influence the behaviours of our adolescents even though at times it may seem that our words or expectations are being ignored or challenged. The important thing is to not give up even when it seems like an onslaught. At this unique time, I know it’s not easy being parents or teachers.  Largely because we want to ensure our children are able to engage in things that make them happy and engage fully with life. Perhaps we may not go so hard on them around their behaviours for fear that we may go back into lockdown or other restrictions which create uncertainty about what is to come. 

BUT now is not the time to let go of our standards, expectations and most importantly our values. Now is the time to prove that we stand for strong values of respect, inclusion and leading positive and purposeful lives. We need to still have the conversations around these and how they play out in our children’s lives. 

What is a Nang?

The use of Nitrous Oxide commonly referred to as 'Nangs' is also increasing in popularity among young people at present and it is important for parents and young people to know the facts and the dangers associated with inhaling this gas. Many would recognise the image below as a bulb or cartridge used to whip cream, as such these are readily available, particularly online and are very cheap at the average cost of $1.

The gas from these canisters is most commonly inhaled, by discharging the gas cartridges into a balloon or sometimes directly into the mouth, producing what is described as a feeling of exhilaration or floating that generally lasts for just a short period of time. Many young people believe that this is harmless and liken it to inhaling helium from a balloon. However, like all drugs this has the potential to result in long term psychological and physical health issues.

I encourage Parents to read carefully the fact sheet found here and ensure that your teenager if attending gatherings where you suspect there may be poor behaviour is aware of the dangers.

The following links may also be of use to inform your understanding:

Of late there has been an increase in gatherings on weekends. Anecdotally, I hear that some of the behaviours that are happening are questionable. Whether it be through the use of alcohol or other illicit substances some of our Senior School student community (and thankfully I am talking small numbers) are engaging in the use of substances which have the potential to change their lives for ever. To address this, we will be doing a series of learning moments to address the poor choice behaviours which compromise our young people. At school we learn of what has been going on at events on weekends because they spill over into the relationships between students often with hurtful actions and words. In any other year our set educational pieces would have played out over the first two terms, however better now than never. It is time to engage and nip some of these worrying behaviours in the bud.

It works best when we are working together. I would ask all parents on Torrens Park Campus to have the important conversations that may have slipped off your radar in amongst the busy-ness of life this year. We have safe party guidelines which we publish on a regular basis and I would urge you to revisit them. United our message has to be that we understand but we do not condone risk taking behaviours. 

I have included today a reference regarding “Nangs” which have emerged as a significant party drug of choice for teenagers in Adelaide and around Australia over the last year. I have also included the guidelines around parties. Other topics which I believe are worth discussing with your teen is the use of social media and behaviours which cause unnecessary distress. For example, the role of jealousy often undermines friendships, and this occurs in times of change – perspective is all. There is nothing wrong with the age-old advice that, if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything and, if it’s not your business don’t make it your business.  

Importantly, we need to consider the tools that can be used your teenager to not make mistakes or bad choices including the explicit teaching of self-regulation. If teens want to behave as adults, then they also need to have the conversations about what being an adult looks like – at the heart of that is the ability to nurture respectful relationships. Kelly and I are always open to hearing back from the community your thoughts about the behaviours which you admire in Scotch students and those that concern you. We need to be on the same page to message the same and that way our expectations and standards may be met.

I look forward to seeing you out and about tomorrow a couple of big fixtures – rug up and bring your brolly!


WATCH: Dr Newton discusses how we innovate as a school, highlighting the recent Education Committee Think Tank Eve