According to independent research commissioned by Drinkaware, Irish parents are a nation divided in relation to their children drinking alcohol. Over half (53%) of parents surveyed stated that they believe it is acceptable for their children to drink alcohol at home. This contradicts emerging evidence that parental supply of alcohol is associated with increased risks. The research, conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes, also found that just one in ten Irish parents obtain the facts about alcohol and the dangers of underage drinking before talking to their children.

Launching the campaign and evidence-led information booklet, Your Children and Alcohol, Ms Niamh Gallagher, Chief Executive, Drinkaware said that as the main influence in their children’s lives, parents have a unique role to play in delaying the age at which alcohol is introduced.

As a parent, it’s important to understand all the facts, so that children are aware of the risks associated with drinking alcohol from a young age. There is little consensus among parents on the age at which to have this talk and what information it should contain. But it needs to happen and like all conversations of this nature, it shouldn’t be a once-off. Don’t wait for an incident to happen; talk to your children early on and as often as possible.

Drinkaware is responding to an identified need for support, facts and advice to encourage parents to start a conversation about alcohol with their children. The campaign also features a comprehensive parents’ hub at drinkaware.ie/parents, with a range evidence-led and age-appropriate information and a range of interactive tools and resources to help initiate and guide the conversation.

Ms Clare Crowley Collier (M.A, B.A, Adv Dip Psych & Hyp, Dip Psych & Hyp, Dip Child Psychology), Psychotherapist and Life Skills Facilitator at Family Matters, said that the materials developed by Drinkaware provide the correct support and useful facts for parents to confidently have a conversation with their children about drinking alcohol.

Developing a strong, respectful and trusting relationship with your children can positively change their behaviours when it comes to important issues such as alcohol,” she said.

Ms Gallagher noted, “Our research shows that parents rarely actively seek information about some of the most worrying effects of underage drinking – the link between alcohol and mental health, illegal drug use and sexual health. We will continue to support parents by raising awareness, creating understanding and supporting behaviour change through evidence-led education, particularly in these key areas.

Drinkaware’s parents’ campaign aims to delay the age at which young people in Ireland have their first drink and, where alcohol is consumed by a young person, to reduce the volume of alcohol consumed.