Parents are urged to be blunt with their children about the risks of too much alcohol, and to decide now if they will allow their teenagers to drink on Christmas Day.

“We know that, culturally, for many families, the initiation into alcohol starts well before the age of 18,’’ says Centacare’s Paul Senior, Executive Manager, Support Training & Intervention Services.

“How do you safely introduce kids in their late teens to drinking, or do you limit their supply?

“It’s about conversations as a family. Name the risks: be quite bold and blunt about those.

“Decide now if you’ll let your young person have a drink on Christmas Day to avoid having a blow up on Sunday.

“As parents, think about how you create an environment through your own behaviour that allows them to witness appropriate use of alcohol.’’

The holiday season often left young people open to risk-taking behaviour but without safety scaffolding surrounding community events such as schoolies week, Paul said.

“Schoolies in South Australia is incredibly well managed but then we seem to have a vacuum that comes after in terms of safety and managing young people’s exploratory behaviour.

“Adolescents are going to want to drink and push boundaries to take risks, but the two things don’t mix well.

“If they’ve never had any form of substance other than alcohol and they’re at a dance party and have been drinking and someone offers them something, their chances of saying no are greatly dimin

Australian alcohol guidelines state that not drinking is the safest option for people under 18 years.

The 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found while young people are delaying drinking or choosing not to drink, alcohol contributes to the three major causes of teen death: injury, homicide and suicide.

Almost 5 million Australians aged 14 and over had been a victim of an alcohol-related incident in 2013. Across the same age group, one in five teens had put themselves or others at risk of harm while under the influence of alcohol in the previous 12 months.

“From toddlerhood, children learn drinking behaviours from their parents. If you’ve been getting drunk every weekend, then you can’t turn around when your child is 16 and say they shouldn’t be drinking alcohol,’’ Paul said.

“Set a good example and be clear about the risk of injury and loss of life, and avoid recruiting young people into drinking by encouraging them to serve you.’’