Parents urged to re-think their own drinking habits

17 June 2011

Parents need to consider how their attitudes towards alcohol are influencing their children’s drinking behaviour according to Swanswell.

The call from the national charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, comes as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveal the results of their Ipsos MORI survey in to 5700 children aged 13 to 16.

Among the findings, it said children who see their mums and dads drunk are twice as likely to regularly get drunk themselves and that poor parental supervision also raises the chances of teenage drinking (BBC News).

Researchers also found that one in five teenagers claimed to have been drunk by the time they were 14 and half of those questioned said they had been drunk by the time they were 16.

Debbie Bannigan, Chief Executive of Swanswell, said: ‘The results of this survey haven’t come as a surprise to us but highlight how young people are easily influenced by the behaviour of their parents, whether they realise it or not.

Therefore it’s vital that parents lead by example and think about how their own actions are perceived by their children – how often they drink alcohol, where they drink it and how they act when they have had a drink.

‘They also need to consider how accessible alcohol is in their home - we’ve found in our own research that this is where many young people will look to get it.

‘At this time of year especially, many parents will be bringing back cheap drink from abroad, so they should consider where the most appropriate place is to store it out of reach of their children.

‘Finally, it’s important to have open and informed conversations about alcohol regularly, to ensure teenagers are fully aware of the impact alcohol can have on their health and wellbeing.’

The research released by the Joseph Research Foundation also states that peer pressure also has a significant impact on drinking behaviour, which backs up Swanswell’s own findings from a recent project called ‘Looking back’.

Swanswell asked 115 adults receiving treatment when they first began having problems with alcohol – 46% said it started under the age of 18 with pressure from friends being the main reason why they drank alcohol.

Debbie Bannigan added: ‘We know that the issue around alcohol misuse is much wider than what’s being highlighted here and ultimately there needs to be clearer thinking from the government and a more joined up approach about the best way to tackle it.

We hear a lot about alcohol pricing being used as a way to curb excessive drinking– but there’s much more to it. How it’s promoted, where it is placed and the product itself are other key aspects that should be considered.’

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