Parents are biggest providers of alcohol to their kids, reveals a new report

Children as young as 10 say their parents are who they would turn to first for advice about alcohol, and the most common source of alcohol itself, according to new research published today by alcohol education charity Drinkaware.

Unique research, which polled parents (who were social grades ABC1) of 10-17 year olds and their children, highlights that 72% of the 10-17 year olds questioned say their parents are the first people they would approach with questions about alcohol, while half (50%) of those who have had a drink report it was their parents who supplied them with the alcohol the last time they drank. When asked about the last time they were drinking, 50% of 10-17 year olds who have had a drink say their parents gave them the alcohol.

The publication of these findings coincides with the launch of Drinkaware’s new ‘Mumtank’ – a team of mums with expertise ranging from health and child psychology, to education and parenting. The Mumtank will provide parents with practical advice on how to tackle the thorny issues around kids and alcohol.

Today’s research also shows that while 83% of parents agree it is important to talk to their kids about alcohol, a third (32%) admit that there are many things they do not know about the effects of alcohol on children. Many parents allow their children to drink from an early age – with data showing that in those families where the child had drunk alcohol, the average age at which parents first allowed their child to have a drink was 13.8 years old. Of the 10-17 year olds polled who had drunk an alcoholic drink, the majority (55%) had been with their parents the last time they drank alcohol.

Additional findings from the research include:

· 43% of parents worry that their child’s friends have a greater influence on their child’s drinking behaviour than they do.

· Over two thirds (67%) of 10-17 year olds say they have never felt encouraged to drink alcohol.

Based on the outcomes of this new research, and drawing on their collective expertise and experience, this summer the Mumtank will produce a practical and thought-provoking set of resources for parents, which will seek to involve them in the debate and offer advice and guidance on children and alcohol.

This resource will form the centrepiece of Drinkaware’s parenting campaign this year, which offers advice and tips to parents on how and when to talk to their children about alcohol, in an age appropriate way, between the ages of 8 -17. Further advice can be found at

Chris Sorek, Chief Executive of Drinkaware, says:

“These findings will help to reassure parents that their children are more likely to go to them for advice about alcohol than their peers. So it’s really important that they have the right advice, information and support to talk to their kids. Evidence shows that the earlier children start drinking, the more likely they are to drink more and more frequently as they grow up.

“Parents are key to tackling the UK’s drinking culture in the long term, and we want to help them ensure their kids don’t grow up to be the next generation of binge drinkers. Drinkaware’s Mumtank aims to bring the debate about children and alcohol to life and spark lively discussion by increasing awareness of the issues, providing expert advice and questioning pre-conceived ideas about children and alcohol.”

Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP, says:

“As parents, we have a responsibility to ensure our children get the right alcohol education so they can make informed decisions about alcohol. To do this, we need to have access to all the facts, and understand both the short term dangers, and long term health harms of underage drinking. While parents may be tempted to encourage children to try alcohol earlier rather than later, as a form of alcohol education, medical evidence shows that an alcohol free childhood is best. As a GP and the parent of two teenagers, the issue of alcohol misuse among young people is a cause close to my heart. That’s why I’m delighted to be a part of the Mumtank panel and am confident it will produce some fascinating insights into this subject and spark great debate.”

Dr Pat Spungin, Child and Family Psychologist, says:

“We know that parents are the most important role models a child has, and that children look to their parents for guidance and to set an example on a whole host of issues, particularly alcohol. Because children would go to their parents first for information about alcohol, it’s really important that parents are prepared to enter into an open and honest dialogue, and have access to all the right facts to do this. Research shows that drinking from an early age can have damaging psychological and developmental effects on young people, which is why I am so pleased to be able to play a part through Mumtank in helping to tackle this issue.”

These findings are taken from research conducted by Ipsos MORI among its online panel. The parents’ findings are combined from two quota surveys conducted online with ABC1 parents of children aged 10-17 in the UK; the first was conducted between 16th and 29th November 2011 with 528 parents; the second wave was conducted between 7th and 29th February 2012 with 498 parents.

The children’s results are based on 519 responses to a quota survey carried out online with children aged 10-17 years old from families whose social grade is ABC1. All respondents were children of Ipsos MORI panellists living in the UK and consent was given by parents for their son or daughter to complete the survey. The research was conducted in compliance with the Market Research Society (MRS) Code of Conduct. Fieldwork dates were between 16th and 29th November 2011. The data for both parents and children surveys were weighted by age, gender, region and social grade to the known population profiles.

The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option.

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