‘Matric Rage’ can be managed
Guidelines for parents on how to celebrate the end of school.
Every year, after weeks of boredom and exam stress, thousands of young South Africans descend on holiday spots to celebrate the end of 12 years of school and their freedom. Known as ‘Matric Rage’, they indulge in a frenzy of parties, characterised by drug taking, binge drinking, under-age drinking, drunk driving and unsafe sex. There are the inevitable accompanying tragedies which can permanently spoil what should be a well earned celebration.
Adding further menace is that these days, a lot of behaviour which should be consigned to the memory junkyards can unfortunately be preserved for eternity on cellphones, Facebook, BBM and other instant photo albums.
This is according to Gary Koen, a clinical psychologist who specialises in the issue of teen drinking. “While these festivals, known as ‘Matric Rage’, are now largely well organised and can be a lot of fun for everyone, parents and teenagers need to be aware that their safety, not their ‘good time’, has to come first.
“Just because they have finished Matric does not mean they are grown up. They are still in need of a lot of parental guidance.”
Parents still have a responsibility towards their children. So how can parents make sure their almost-grown up children survive?
Below are some guidelines for parents:
First: getting there needs to be safe and well organised. Those who are driving to the venue need to do so in reliable vehicles, with responsible drivers. This means no drinking along the way. Taking the bus is also a good option.
Second: where to stay. Their accommodation must also be arranged in advance. While some may find the notion of “wherever I lay my head, that’s my home” romantic, all it takes is one cold, squashed night in the back of a car or on a hard pool lounger to realize how much a warm, safe cosy bed contributes to having a good time.
Third: money, do not give them too much. There are very few situations in which a teenager will find themselves, where having a lot money will actually help them. Generally the reverse is true. Teenagers with a lot of money tend to attract trouble, rather than keep trouble at bay. So work out a budget to which they need to stick.
Fourth: Be serious about your message and rules. They genuinely do stand on the threshold of their lives - the last thing they need is to do something which either gets them arrested, badly hurt or killed, or humiliates and compromises them before they even start living the life they have been dreaming of.
Koen says Matriculants need to realise the idea of an end of year festival is to have a good time and build memories, not regrets that will last a lifetime.  Parents have the responsibility of ensuring that their children understand this in order to avoid any disastrous consequences from occurring. 

Contact: Gary Koen, Clinical Psychologist, 083 306 2385

Can your Matric kids be trusted to party responsibly? Tell us about how you plan to help them.

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