Parents and carers role vital in alcohol awareness says Swanswell

15 March 2012

Parents and carers have a vital role to play in alcohol education says Swanswell, as new research suggests children as young as 10 are more familiar with some drinks brands than they are with popular foods and snacks.

Swanswell, a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to a report from Alcohol Concern who surveyed 401 primary school-aged children in Wales to find out how aware they were of alcohol marketing.

Research found that of those questioned, twice as many children recognised Carlsberg as an alcohol brand than those who recognised Mr Kipling cakes as food.

Meanwhile, three-quarters associated the image of fictional characters from the Fosters advert with alcohol, compared to 42% who recognised the Cadbury drumming gorilla as an advert for food (BBC News).

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘It’s worrying that children as young as ten are more aware of some alcohol brands and adverts than they are for some popular foods like cake or chocolate.

Although the results highlight a need for more effective controls in alcohol advertising, it also shows a need for better alcohol education in schools and most importantly, at home.

Ultimately it’s up to us as parents or carers to manage the risks of our children’s exposure to these products.

Children are naturally curious, so it’s important we make conversations around alcohol as open and informed as possible .

‘That way, we can ensure they have an early understanding of the potential dangers of alcohol misuse later in life, arming them with enough knowledge to make informed decisions about their drinking when they’re older.’

The report also recognises that alcohol awareness can be influenced by seeing parents and friends drinking as well as marketing.

Debbie added: ‘Parents and friends have a very influential role. In fact, as part of a recent Swanswell survey of 115 adults in treatment with us, we asked when people first began having problems with alcohol.

‘Almost half said they were under 18 and many stated peer pressure or family use as some of the reasons why they started drinking.

‘So if alcohol is readily available in the home and children see you having a drink every evening, they’ll naturally assume it’s the norm and won’t understand the risks.

Just think about how your own drinking might be perceived and look at where your alcohol is stored at home to make sure that it’s not easily accessible.’

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