Schoolies is all about celebrating a hard year of study and a new beginning. It means having a good time, not a violent time.
While most schoolies will be out to enjoy themselves there will undoubtedly be a few troublemakers - probably the toolies - who give schoolies a bad name. It's important to be aware that violence is possible anywhere, but especially where alcohol is being consumed. It's also a good idea to have a back-up plan so that you and your friends will know ahead of time what to do if you do encounter a violent situation.
What is violence?
Violence can involve a range of anti-social actions including:
- Intimidating, threatening or verbally abusive behaviour
- Creating a public disturbance
- Engaging in extremely aggressive and violent acts such as fighting and destroying property
Alcohol and violence
Drinking alcohol is an obvious factor contributing to aggression and violence in bars, pubs, nightclubs and public places. When a person becomes drunk, they're less likely to consider other options for resolving conflicts. Alcohol also contributes to violence because it increases the drinker's willingness to take risks and impairs the drinker's ability to talk his or her way out of trouble.
Many of the alcohol problems police deal with can be attributed to ordinary drinkers who go on binges, drink more than they usually do or drink on an empty stomach. So it's important during schoolies that you and your friends look out for each other. You don't have to drink alcohol to have fun, but if you do:
- Have something to eat before you start drinking alcohol
- Pace yourself to avoid drinking too quickly
- Make every second drink a non-alcoholic drink
If you feel different or ill stop drinking and tell someone.
Staying safe during schoolies
To stay safe during your schoolies holiday, develop a safety plan with your friends. Having a plan about what to do in advance will make sure that you'll know what to do if you feel unsafe or something bad happens. When planning to reduce the risk of violence occurring, consider the following:
- Have somewhere safe to go - if fights break out or someone is threatening you with assault, have a safe, designated area you'll go to. You may get separated from friends if you are involved in a violent situation such as a bar brawl so it's important to agree before you go out, where you'll meet if there's any trouble and if you get separated
- Don't be a 'rubber-necker' - if a fight does break out, don't stay around to watch what happens. Get yourself and your friends out of there immediately
- Call the police - if someone's threatening you or has assaulted you in any way, call the police on 000 immediately
- Tell someone - make sure your friends and/or family know where you are at all times. Don't forget to give your contact numbers and the address of where you're staying to friends and family back home, just in case
- Have extra money - set some cash aside and carry it in a separate pocket in case you lose your wallet and need to make a phone call or take a taxi somewhere
- Travel in groups - whenever possible, travel in groups and look out for each other. Don't go out alone and stick to well-lit streets. Take a friend with you when you're using an ATM
- Don't take the bait - if someone is trying to incite violence by calling you or your friends names, let it go. Ignore them and walk away
- Report an assault - if you are assaulted, seek treatment from a health care provider and report the assault to the police
- Don't let strangers in - don't let strangers or people you've just met into your home, hotel room, hostel or other accommodation
The vast majority of young Victorians don't carry weapons or use them to commit crimes.
Never carry a weapon - even if you don't ever intend using it. Your chance of being injured or inflicting injury dramatically increases by simply carrying a weapon.
Be open and consistent about telling people close to you that you do not want them to carry any sort of weapon - for any reason at any time.
If you're confronted with a situation that involves a weapon, the safest thing to do is to walk away and not get drawn into conflict.
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