The Health-Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study provides information about the health, well-being, social environment and health behaviour of 11-15-year-old boys and girls from 44 countries across Europe and North America. This research is conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organisations (WHO) Regional Office for Europe. The latest study, which is conducted every four years, was launched in Brussels earlier today.
The 2016 HBSC Study shows a decrease in the level of alcohol consumption by Irish teenagers. The research, carried out between 2010 and 2014, found that an equal number of Irish 15 year-old girls and boys (16% each) reported being drunk on two or more occasions.
4% of 15-year-old girls said they drink alcohol at least once a week, a decrease from 9% as reported in the 2012 HBSC Study. A similar reduction can be seen in the number of 15 year-old boys reporting that they drink alcohol at least once a week, with the figure falling from 13% (2012 report) to 6% in 2016.(1)
While the decrease in the rate of teenage alcohol consumption is a positive outcome, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption for children. The HSE advises that teenagers should not drink alcohol at all. International evidence shows that people who begin drinking at age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who start at age 20 or older.(2)
The report also highlighted that Irish teens feel they don’t get enough support from their family and peers. Emotional support from family and friends was highlighted as crucial in helping teenagers deal with stressful situations and help them cope with negative feelings.
For parents who would like to talk to their children about alcohol and its effects, see the dedicated parents’ section of our website. Here you’ll find information and downloadable resources to help initiate and guide the conversation, advice on building resilience in your children and your influential role as a parent. See drinkaware.ie/parents
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1 Inchley J et al., eds. Growing up unequal: gender and socioeconomic differences in young people’s health and well-being. Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study: international report from the 2013/2014 survey. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2016. (Health Policy for Children and Adolescents, No. 7)