Swanswell repeats better education calls as parents give children alcohol for finishing exams

18 June 2014

Swanswell’s repeating calls for better education and clearer information around alcohol use, as new figures reveal one in four parents will give their child drink to reward them for finishing exams.

The national recovery charity is responding to a report by Drinkaware, which found on average, children aged 14 to 17 will be given around nine units of alcohol to help them celebrate – the equivalent of a bottle of wine or around four cans of lager (Independent).

It also revealed that 54% of parents had given their child alcohol outside of the exam celebration period, and that 86% said they’d done so because their child had asked for a drink.

According to Drinkaware, around 15,000 children were hospitalised between 2010 and 2013 because of excessive alcohol use. In addition, the report found one in five parents don’t understand medical guidance around children and alcohol use.

Swanswell believes the report highlights the need for better education and clearer information for parents and young people, so they understand the risks of alcohol use – particularly to children.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘It’s only right that children and their parents celebrate the end of a tough spell of revision and exams – but is alcohol really the best approach to take?

Giving a child any amount of alcohol could lead to problems but excessive amounts – especially at levels mentioned in the report – can cause some serious harm and could leave them in a vulnerable state, particularly if they then go out for the night.

It’s also fuelling a child’s impression that alcohol should be used in all types of celebration – they’ll already be seeing it at weddings, birthdays, christenings and during the World Cup – and they’ll assume it’s expected or normal.

So, it’s vital that parents and children have access to better education and clearer information to help them understand the harm that alcohol can cause, and that open and informed conversations about alcohol use are encouraged at home.’

It comes just months after Swanswell carried out an investigation in to alcohol exposure and children after learning thousands of primary schools were setting up licensed bars for parents at sports days, discos and fetes.

Debbie added: ‘While primary schools weren’t selling alcohol to under-18s, research told us that having licensed bars at events aimed at children would give them the impression that it was normal to drink at any social occasion when they’re old enough.

As with rewarding exam success, it’s important to create environments where there’s no alcohol at all to show that it’s perfectly acceptable not to drink, and that they can still enjoy themselves with a soft drink or other non-alcoholic alternative.’

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