Children ‘copy parents’ drinking’

Parents underestimate the influence their own
drinking habits have on their children's attitude to alcohol,
government research suggests.

A Department for Children,
Families and Schools study suggests children from heavy-drinking
households are more likely to use alcohol themselves.

And half of young people who have drunk alcohol were given it by their parents.

It comes as ministers urge parents to help their children make sensible decisions about drinking alcohol.

The department commissioned research to get a clearer idea of the attitudes and use of alcohol among parents and young people.

The study was based on 4,000 interviews with parents, children and young people.

'Delay drinking'

It also found that eight out of 10 parents had no pre-planned strategies to tackle irresponsible drinking by their children.

One in four of the children interviewed said their parents had never talked to them about alcohol.

While
the majority of parents said they were fully aware of their child's
drinking habits, one in 10 said they were unaware if their child had
drunk alcohol.

The research is being published as part of a campaign to tackle under-age drinking.

Schools
Minister Vernon Coaker said: "Today's research shows that parents
underestimate their influence over their child's drinking and attitudes
to alcohol, yet a quarter of young people have never spoken to their
parents about the issue.

"That's why through the Why Let Drink
Decide? campaign we are giving parents and young people the confidence
to have open conversations about alcohol, to ultimately delay the age
at which young people start drinking."

Parental guidance

The
chief medical officer for England advises that an alcohol-free
childhood is the best option, but if children do drink alcohol they
should not do so before the age of 15.

And then it should be with the guidance of a parent or carer.

Ministers
are expected to provide new funds to help police enforce new powers to
tackle the issue and to publish a best practice guide for local
authorities as part of the campaign.

Positive alternatives to drinking alcohol, such as playing football, are also being encouraged as part of the campaign.