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Drinkaware - Getting real about kids and alcohol

There are all sorts of myths out there about young people and drinking – but the facts are often very different from the fiction.

"Underage drinking is inevitable"
No, it's not. The media may go on relentlessly about underage binge drinkers, but more than half (55%) of 11 to 15-year-olds have never tried alcohol. What's more, that percentage has increased in recent years. 

"I don't have any influence anyway"
But you do! Research shows parents are the BIGGEST influence in terms of a child's attitudes towards alcohol . Kids don't just learn to walk and talk from their parents – they learn to drink from them, too.

"My young child won't notice me drinking"
Oh yes he will. Research shows that kids as young as seven can recognise drunken behaviour. That's why it's important to start talking to them early about alcohol.

"If I talk to my child about alcohol, it's just going to start giving her ideas"
No it isn't – because your child is already very aware of drinking – not only from home, but also from the media, school and friends. Giving your child a clear message about alcohol, from a young age, has been found to be crucial to their future drinking habits.

"I drank as a teenager, and I'm fine"
Whatever happened to you when you were younger, the evidence today is very clear: an alcohol-free childhood is best. Research shows that the age a child has his or her first drink is directly related to the amount of alcohol they consume later in life . So, whatever your own experience, aim to help your child delay drinking as long as possible.

"It's ok to give a child a small glass of wine – that's what they do in other European countries"
The so-called 'continental' approach is much-mentioned in the UK, but in fact the benefits of introducing a child to alcohol at a young age to try have never been proven at all. What the research does show, quite clearly, is actually the opposite – that it's far better to delay a first drink than to suggest it . If your child starts asking to try alcohol, use that as the starting-point to a conversation about alcohol, its use and its misuse.



Last updated: over 3 years ago