The Galway Healthy Cities Alcohol Forum recently conducted a survey with 500 people aged 18 years and over to assess behaviours, attitudes and awareness in relation to alcohol use in Galway City. The survey highlighted that many parents believe it is acceptable to supply alcohol to 15-17-year-olds at home.
While parents are best placed to educate their children about alcohol, there is growing evidence to suggest that parental supply of alcohol at an early age is associated with significant risks. The argument is often that if children are taught to drink sensibly under parental supervision they will have a more mature attitude towards alcohol however this just isn’t the case. Children who were introduced to alcohol under the supervision within the home are just as likely to binge drink outside of the home as those who were not.
Fiona Donovan, Health Promotion and Improvement, HSE explained that “although adults consider underage drinking as the number one problem in Galway City, worryingly many believe that it’s acceptable to give alcohol to 15-17-year-olds at home. The survey showed that 18% of people think it is acceptable to give a child aged 15 alcohol at home and 44% believe it is acceptable to give a child aged 16 to 17 alcohol at home.”
These findings echo research commissioned by Drinkaware in Autumn 2015 with 502 parents of children between the ages of 11 and 15, where it was found that Ireland is a nation divided when it comes to rules around drinking alcohol at home before the legal age of 18 years old. Our research, conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes, found that over half of parents believe it is acceptable for their children to drink alcohol at home. More worryingly, 30% of parents felt that it was okay for their children to drink alcohol at home below the age of 16 years.
Other key findings of the Galway survey include that one in five people have experienced alcohol-related harm as a result of their own drinking habits whereas one in four reported harms as a result of someone else’s drinking. Also of note is the unacceptable levels of drink driving in Galway City, with Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley stating that in the first five months of this year, 56 motorists were detected driving while over the legal alcohol limit in Galway.
“56 is a huge amount of drink drivers in the city. In the whole county, including the city, that averages out at over 30 a month which is very, very high. You’re talking about people at 10 o’clock in the morning, 12 o’clock in the day,” he said.