School council federation president talks about the peer pressure plague

Nathan Whalen
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A phenomenon that began in Australia has made its way around the world and has now begun to hit us hard here at home. I’m sure you’re heard of it: Neknominations.

Nathan Whalen

Yes, the game of filming yourself chugging or “necking” copious amounts of alcohol, challenging your friends to outshine your performance within 24 hours, and posting it online for the world to see is now on your child’s radar.

This incredibly dangerous game has lead to deaths around the globe and is a swift push encouraging youth to consume alcohol.

The peer pressure behind this game is that it is seen as honourable to be nominated to perform the task. For many junior and senior high school youth, this game flies in the face of creating safe and healthy environments. Many parents are unaware that their child may have been drinking alcohol or believe that their child is too young for this issue to concern them; however, according to the 2012 Student Drug Use Survey, the average age of initial alcohol consumption is 13.5 years old.

If you’re the parent of a student who is in Grade 5 or older, they need your guidance on how to say no to peer pressure and to discuss the dangers of such behaviour.

Many young people may have the wrong message that alcohol equates to a good time and yet do not fully understand the dangers. Teaching your child that alcohol is a depressant and discussing the negative side effects such as the health risks, embarrassment, and overconsumption are helpful in guiding them toward making the right choices.

Another thing to consider is showing your child examples where youth have made poor choices and have had consequences ranging from damaging their reputation to landing in a hospital to even death.

What is more important for youth, however, is learning to make smart choices. Most young people are vulnerable to peer pressure. Puberty is primetime for finding your identity and sense of belonging and the key to not giving in to peer pressure is self-esteem and self-confidence.

Be sure your child understands that you and many other trusted adults such as teachers and guidance counselors are there to speak to when needed.

Finally, consider what your family can do to foster safe and healthy environments that promote positive decision-making.

Ask yourself: what behaviours do we encourage and practice at home that promotes my child’s self-esteem? Also, determine how you can get involved in your school community’s safe and caring schools initiatives and lend a hand.

So what do you do if your family is faced with a nomination? I recommend that instead of participating in the dangerous charade, encourage your child to take a stand and join in the “Random Acts of Kindness Nominations” or “Raknominations” and film a video doing some good and challenging others to do the same.

— Nathan Whalen is the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils. He can be reached at president@schoolcou

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  • Compromised Priorities?
    February 19, 2014 - 05:06

    Until young people are left to their own judgement with regards to tanning, drinking, sex or any other activity that government practices ageism-scapegoating on, they will not develop the self-determination required to put baby boomers (and their young acolytes) in their place. I will not suggest putting them all in "the home", for this would be rampant unadulterated ageism as well. I will suggest that certain calcified brains of the boomer generation get off their hypocritical high horse and end the compromise of values for profit. Privatize NLC and let Steve Winter et alii go work for a living. End this white collar welfare if it is that dangerous to kids. Shut down the tanning beds. This WAR on everything creates rebels, who create profits for NLC, who are MILKING it…..FROM THE NLC AR 2013 ”I would like to congratulate President and CEO Steve Winter on yet another successful year and for being named as one of Atlantic Canada's Top 50 CEOs for the fourth time. This prestigious award presented by Atlantic Business Magazine, recognized Steve Winter as one of Atlantic Canada's most accomplished business leaders who inspires other companies and business leaders to achieve similar success.I would like to thank the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for its ongoing support and specifically, the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Finance.” Poor old forgotten Jerome claimed as poster boy by NLC – who’d have ever thought? “In fiscal 2012-13, the Corporation furthered its use of social media platforms as a means of engaging with customers and informing them about special events, promotions, and contests. NLC's Facebook and Twitter pages experienced a significant increase in engagement during fiscal 2012-13. NLC's Facebook page “likes” increased by over 1,800 users, or 35 percent in fiscal 2012-13 compared to fiscal 2011-12.” They are not targeting the already RUMNOSED BOOMERS on social media, this campaign is for tender youth! “The Corporation made a significant investment in in-store signage to encourage customers to enjoy the products they purchase in a responsible manner. The theme of the messaging was “It Starts with Drinking Responsibly”: NLC aims to relay the important message to customers that including beverage alcohol in any social activity should start with responsible consumption.” What starts? Alcoholism? “Demographic shifts in Newfoundland and Labrador such as the ageing population and the declining rural population will continue to present challenges for the Corporation. These changes are shifting spending patterns as well as the expectations and needs of the province's residents. It will be important for NLC to monitor these changes and adjust its business practices accordingly to meet the needs of its customers.” It knows it needs youth business more than ever, and the compromise will help them achieve youth sales that the government would be more inclined to deny a private firm. “The commission paid to the Liquor Express operators is deducted from the selling price of the products delivered. The commission paid to Liquor Express operators for the year ended April 6, 2013 was $5.0 million (April 7, 2012 –$4.7 million).” Still paying private firms to stock handy flasks in understaffed gas stations ripe for shoplifting.

  • Cashin Delaney
    February 19, 2014 - 02:48

    How can a group of young people, growing up watching Adults drinking the spiked Flavour Aid of government, resist getting on the excise-taxed liquor? "they need your guidance" They also need knowledge and self-determination. "young people may have the wrong message that alcohol equates to a good time" Now where did they get that notion, I wonder? Go to Newfoundland Liquor Corporation website. We are living in a Country said to be one of the most progressive; the Crown cannot maintain even a letter delivery service. Our provincial government however is ultra-adept at spearheading state-owned liquor and gaming monopolies while the Feds can’t keep our mail flowing? The provinces have zero interest in assuming this “taxpayer’s burden” and would rather you all 'nominate' yourselves to binge drink & wish your check, and children's future away. Maybe it is time that our bloated governments finally cede to their own inability to manage mail, healthcare or energy as resourcefully as whiskey and scratch tickets, and find an entirely new people to lead in a new, undiscovered, wild Western country full of imbibing gamblers devoid of life challenges such as education, child care or jobs to attend. Nathan Whalen, I hope you keep an open mind and do not become a state apologist telling us how much of our services are paid for by gambling and booze revenue. The acts of kindness, I'm all for it. This is mine. "alcohol is a depressant" True, but in small doses, it is a stimulant. “health risks, embarrassment, and overconsumption” In this case, would not habitual overconsumption contribute to health risks and possible embarrassment? Are there not numerous studies on the health benefits of moderate amounts of alcohol? One glass of wine can turn an embarrassing, stumbling speech into graceful elocution. Nathan, I believe that young people, old people, fast people, slow people, all people, even the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils, is susceptible to peer pressure and resulting self-censorship.This piece, high on rhetoric, not so much so on knowledge, is useful in “showing your child examples where youth have made poor choices” and followed the status quo “that it is seen as honourable to be nominated to perform the task” of absolving the government/adult society of culpability with gems like, “This incredibly dangerous game has lead to deaths around the globe and is a swift push encouraging youth to consume alcohol.” The swift push to drink is from our leading adults, not youth. Young people find many stupid ways to die, and this will always be one, so long as stupidity reigns supreme and priggy-pruds write the copy.

  • nekminute
    February 18, 2014 - 21:04

    b'ys it's hardly 'incredibly dangerous'. you neck a beer and get on with it. not like your slammin' a 2-6 to the head.

  • Randy
    February 18, 2014 - 16:54

    Still not good enough for NDP spokes-thingy Brian Jones

  • Hubert Alacoque
    February 18, 2014 - 15:55

    Good show, Nathan.

  • Sickos
    February 18, 2014 - 13:20

    This is the sickest idea of a game that was ever dreamt up. Don't people who play these dangerous games know that their children might see it some day. Also don't they realize what type of idiots they have already become themselves, putting themselves and others in danger.