'Beware of Toolies' and 4 other things parents need to know ahead of Schoolies.

Schoolies is quickly approaching, which can be an anxious time for parents. It's hard to find the balance between making sure your teens are safe, while also not being too overprotective. 

Mel Burgess is a parenting coach and the founder of Love Parenting. She says, "It will be hard to resist the pull to come down heavy and clutch for a sense of control if you are feeling fearful. But be warned that will reduce how safe they will feel to get in contact with you if they come into strife while away."

So for parents whose teens have recently finished Year 12 and are set to celebrate - here's what to be across.

Watch: Get a glimpse inside Schoolies culture. Post continues below.

Video via ABC.

The 5 things to discuss with your teen ahead of Schoolies.

"Joining with them in their excitement will give you an opening into the next of the conversations you are probably busting to have with them about safety," Burgess tells Mamamia.

"It's way better to ask what they already have thought of putting in place for making sure they have the maximum fun with minimum drama."

1. Look out for your friends. And be wary of Toolies.

Your teens, although entering adulthood, are still young and vulnerable. As we've come to know, the part of the brain that controls good decision-making and risk-taking doesn't fully mature until the age of 25. So in a scenario where your teen makes an irresponsible decision, it helps to have friends there to look out for them. 


Also - Schoolies attracts a range of people, and not all with good intentions. 'Toolies' are the young adults who graduated school a couple of years ago but still attend Schoolies in an attempt to reclaim their youth and relive their glory days. No one really likes Toolies. 

Burgess says making sure your teens' friends are looking out for each other is a must. This means having each other's contact details, having a buddy system, and anything that makes sure everyone gets home safe each night.

Andy Gourley is the Founder of Red Frogs, which aims to provide a positive influence in environments that have a heavy alcohol presence. The charity group often has a big presence at certified Schoolies events, specifically on the Gold Coast.

Speaking on Mamamia's No Filter podcast previously, he said Toolies can be quite predatory. 

"They very much take advantage of drunk young people to really crash their party. And a lot of them are there with no good motives at all. In fact probably 80 to 90 per cent of arrests are the Toolies at Schoolies week."

This was clear last year when during Schoolies on the Gold Coast, only 18 of the 67 people arrested completed school that year. 

2. Don't be d**cks. 

Police and Red Frogs have found that Schoolies attendees so far this decade have improved in behaviour compared to previous years. So that should bring parents some comfort!


Gourley said: "We've seen a big decrease in consumption of alcohol and a lot more non-drinkers or people that decide to be the designated sober person for the night. The last two years have been the healthiest we have seen in twenty [years]."

However, no one wants their teen to be the exception to the rule. 

In 2022, a Schoolies checklist created by a teen emerged on Facebook containing disturbing sexually explicit and drug-related challenges. Then devastatingly in 2018, an 18-year-old died falling from his hotel balcony on the Gold Coast. It shows the tragedies that can potentially happen in environments fuelled by alcohol.  

With this context in mind, Burgess says that although these conversations can be a bit of a downer, they're needed. Because at the end of the day, we want our teens to have fun, but not do something they may live to regret. 

3. It's not the girls who need the talk before Schoolies, it's the boys.

It's essential to have continual chats with your sons about all things consent. And Schoolies time is a great opportunity to have the chat again.  

Of course, consent conversations are crucial for all genders. But the statistics show that young boys between 15 and 19 have the highest offending rate of any age group when it comes to sexual assault. 

When it comes to sex, a verbalised "no" is not the only way people will express they're not interested. 

Shifts in body language, unenthusiastic facial expressions, or words of uncertainty are telling signs that consent hasn't been given. Remember - enthusiastic consent is the way to go. 


4. Get to know the other parents, or have their details. 

If you're feeling especially stressed about your teen going to Schoolies, it's more than likely the parents of your teen's friends are feeling the same. Everyone is in the same boat.

A way to ease your anxiety is to have the contact details of the parents of your child's friends. Your kids should have these numbers in their phones too. Even if you don't chat, having a contact number just in case can bring peace of mind. 

5. Drink responsibly. And be safe!

Look, a lot of teens will probably drink at Schoolies. It's making sure they are aware of the potential consequences that’s key. Remind them that eating, having plenty of water and drinking responsibly are all important ways of maintaining safety.

Another handy tip is to assure your teen that it is okay to ask for help if needed, whether that be calling a parent or if relevant, contacting Triple Zero. 

Hopefully with these tips in mind, your worry levels have eased. What Burgess wants all parents to know is this: "You've done plenty. It's time to let them fly."

To keep up to date on all things Schoolies, parents can also join the 'Red Frogs Schoolies Advice for Parents' Facebook Group. 

If your young person is planning to head to Schoolies, Red Frogs can be contacted 24/7 through the hotline number 1300 557 123 or by downloading the Red Frogs App. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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