Page last updated: Thursday, June 18, 2009
UK parents are leaving it too late to educate their children about alcohol
Parents are confused about when to talk to their children about alcohol, according to new research by The Drinkaware Trust (Drinkaware).

40% of parents said they would proactively teach their children about alcohol and thought the right age to do this was at around 14 and a half, but according to 16 and 17 year olds, this is 12 months later than the time young people, on average, start drinking.

According to research conducted by ICM, the average age children have their first alcoholic drink is 13 and a half years and by just over 14, hundreds of young people have been drunk for the first time. England’s Chief Medical Officer estimates that 360,000 11-15 year olds get drunk on a weekly basis.

While parents are confident they can talk to their children about alcohol, many do not have the information and advice they need. Drinkaware is encouraging parents to make sure they are well informed when they guide their children about responsible drinking. The charity has set up a series of round-table discussions with senior figures from the alcohol industry and government, health and parenting professionals and young people themselves to tackle underage drinking head on.

The research questioning 16 and 17 year olds also showed that:

51% listen to their parents about drinking alcohol;

78% drink regularly at friends’ houses;

44% keep alcohol at home;

60% see drinking as a normal part of socialising and being young;

Almost half (49%) said they had seen their parents drunk.

Drinkaware’s CEO, Chris Sorek said: “There are strong links between drinking high levels of alcohol and youth offending, teenage pregnancy, truancy and exclusion from school, so it’s absolutely imperative that parents and young people can get all the available facts about alcohol.”

To help parents talk to their children about alcohol, Drinkaware recommends the following tips for parents:

Be open with your children about alcohol - explain the pros and cons of drinking, without lecturing. Let them ask questions and tell them they can speak to you any time. Warn them especially about how easy it is for inexperienced drinkers to go over their limits, make a fool of themselves and compromise their safety.

Try not to shout and lecture your children if they come home drunk. Sit them down and talk to them about it calmly at another time. Getting angry could make them more deceptive the next time they drink, and it’s better for you if you know where your child is and what they’re doing.

Lead by example. If you often drink heavily in front of your children, they’ll think its ok to do the same.


Parents are confused about when to talk to their children about alcohol, according to new research by The Drinkaware Trust (Drinkaware).

40% of parents said they would proactively teach their children about alcohol and thought the right age to do this was at around 14 and a half, but according to 16 and 17 year olds, this is 12 months later than the time young people, on average, start drinking.

According to research conducted by ICM, the average age children have their first alcoholic drink is 13 and a half years and by just over 14, hundreds of young people have been drunk for the first time. England’s Chief Medical Officer estimates that 360,000 11-15 year olds get drunk on a weekly basis.

While parents are confident they can talk to their children about alcohol, many do not have the information and advice they need. Drinkaware is encouraging parents to make sure they are well informed when they guide their children about responsible drinking. The charity has set up a series of round-table discussions with senior figures from the alcohol industry and government, health and parenting professionals and young people themselves to tackle underage drinking head on.

The research questioning 16 and 17 year olds also showed that:

51% listen to their parents about drinking alcohol;

78% drink regularly at friends’ houses;

44% keep alcohol at home;

60% see drinking as a normal part of socialising and being young;

Almost half (49%) said they had seen their parents drunk.

Drinkaware’s CEO, Chris Sorek said: “There are strong links between drinking high levels of alcohol and youth offending, teenage pregnancy, truancy and exclusion from school, so it’s absolutely imperative that parents and young people can get all the available facts about alcohol.”

To help parents talk to their children about alcohol, Drinkaware recommends the following tips for parents:

Be open with your children about alcohol - explain the pros and cons of drinking, without lecturing. Let them ask questions and tell them they can speak to you any time. Warn them especially about how easy it is for inexperienced drinkers to go over their limits, make a fool of themselves and compromise their safety.

Try not to shout and lecture your children if they come home drunk. Sit them down and talk to them about it calmly at another time. Getting angry could make them more deceptive the next time they drink, and it’s better for you if you know where your child is and what they’re doing.

Lead by example. If you often drink heavily in front of your children, they’ll think its ok to do the same.

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