Three surveys commissioned by the Century Council on underage
drinking, have found that parents and friends are the key source
of alcohol to under age drinkers in the US.
The surveys, released in August, of more than 1,000 kids under
18 and 1,600 parents found that two-thirds of the children and
more than half their parents agreed that the main source of alcohol
for underage drinkers came from family and friends, although the
parents tended to report that they were not providing alcohol."We
dont absolve the industry of responsibility for preventing underage
drinking, but the parents play a major role and need to understand
that this is where access is taking place," says Ralph S. Blackman,
president of the Century Council, a non-profit group that conducted
the surveys as part of a national public awareness program to
combat underage drinking.
For the surveys, children ages 10 to 18 and adults, including
700 with children under age 18, responded through the Internet
or by telephone. Among the kids, only 1% of 10-12 year olds reported
drinking, compared with 23% of 13-15 year olds and 35% of 16-18
year olds. Among those who did drink, 65 % said they got alcoholic
drinks from family and friends-either from older siblings or friends,
by taking it from their home or a friends home without permission
or by having parents who allowed them to drink.
From the parents perspective, 53% agreed that friends and family
were the main source of alcohol. However, Blackman says, the parents
rarely took responsibility for kids access to alcoholic beverages.
"They will acknowledge that its somebody down the block, or a
friends parents ...On an individual basis, it never starts at
home." When asked about other ways to get alcohol, parents and
children had different responses. For instance, 7 % of the children
reported that they got alcohol from a store or bar that doesnt
check IDs, while 18% of the parents thought that was a source
for alcohol. About 5% of the children reported getting liquor
from a stranger, by asking someone to buy them beer, for instance,
while 10% of the parents listed that as a means of access.Only
3% of children reported successful use of fake IDs to get alcohol,
but 19% of their parents blamed fake IDs for kids access to
The aim of the program was simply to raise parental awareness,
Blackman says. He says parents need to "be a good role model in
terms of their own consumption and behaviour, identify bad behaviour,
like kids not getting up in the morning or having their grades
slip, and supervise them."