Stop Giving Your Children Alcohol

Stop Giving Your Children Alcohol

Parents who allow their children to have alcohol in order to teach them about dangerous drinking may be doing more harm than good.

Experts have said it is “worrying” that advice on underage drinking is not getting through to parents, after a study found one in six of them allow their children to consume alcohol at the age of 14.

Current health guidelines say an alcohol-free childhood is best, with children not drinking any alcohol before they are 15.

But research by the UCL Institute of Education and Pennsylvania State University in the US found that well-educated parents of white children were most likely to allow them to drink before this age.

Parents who did not consume alcohol themselves tended not to let their children drink.

Among those who did, fathers and mothers who drank heavily were no more likely to allow their children to consume alcohol than less frequent drinkers.

Under UK law, it is legal for children aged five to 16 to drink alcohol at home. An adult can also buy beer, wine or cider for a child over the age of 16 if they are eating a meal together in a pub or restaurant.


Given Christmas is a time when wine is often shared at the dinner table, the researchers were keen to point out that while having better educated parents is generally a protective factor, previous studies have shown that starting drinking at a young age means children are more likely to fail at school, have behaviour issues and alcohol and substance problems when they become adults.

They examined data on more than 10,000 children born in the UK at the turn of this century.

It was discovered that 17% of parents in the UK have allowed their children to drink by the time they were 14.

Parents of white children who had jobs, were more educated and who consumed alcohol themselves, were more likely to allow their adolescent children to drink than unemployed parents, those with fewer educational qualifications, and ethnic minority parents.

Professor Jennifer Maggs, who led the study, said: “Parents of socially advantaged children may believe that allowing children to drink will teach them responsible use or may in fact inoculate them against dangerous drinking.

“However, there is little research to support these ideas.”


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