1 in 3 parents do not have rules around their children’s alcohol consumption

1 in 3 parents do not have rules around their children’s alcohol consumption

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Drinkaware research reveals that:

  • Parents are the key source for children to learn about alcohol.
  • Increase in the number of parents who believe it's acceptable for their children to drink at home before the age of 15 years - 14% in 2017 vs 9% in 2015.
  • 50% of Irish parents consider it acceptable for children to drink alcohol at home before the legal age of 18 years.
  • Parental confidence in talking to their children about alcohol and risks of underage drinking has significantly reduced – 61% in 2017 compared to 75% in 2015.

Research commissioned by Drinkaware has revealed that almost 7 out of 10 parents believe that their own drinking habits influence their children’s attitudes to alcohol. Despite this, children and young teenagers remain exposed to parental drinking, particularly at family occasions and in the home. This Behaviour and Attitudes research was conducted with 503 parents in order to identify the main contributory and influencing factors on young people’s attitudes towards alcohol.

Ahead of the State exams drawing to a close in the coming week, Drinkaware is appealing to parents to talk openly and honestly to their children about alcohol at this high-risk time. Drinkaware have the following advice for parents about how to have that conversation with their child if they are celebrating the end of the Junior or Leaving Cert:

  • Be Proactive: Don’t wait for an alcohol-related incident to happen; talk to children early and often.
  • Plan alternative Activities: Could you host a party in your home? If so, remember that it is illegal to serve alcohol to minors and parental supply of alcohol is associated with increased risks.
  • Set Rules together: You should both be fully aware of your rules in relation to alcohol – what is the curfew? What are the consequences for breaking the rules?
  • Lead by Example: Safety is key - be open and remind your child that they can call or text you if they feel unsafe or unwell at any point during the night.
  • Take Notice: Talk to the parents of your child’s friends and ensure you are familiar with their rules about alcohol.
  • Keep Talking: Talk openly about their plans - Who is going? Where is the event? How will they get home? Will alcohol be available?

Ms Niamh Gallagher, CEO of Drinkaware said:

“At Drinkaware, we are regularly contacted by parents who worry that friends and peers have more influence on when their child will drink alcohol but this just isn’t the case. Drinkaware research shows that all family members, and in particular parents, are the single strongest influence on their child’s opinions and future behaviour around alcohol. We know from international research that people who start drinking alcohol before the age of 15 years are four times more likely to experience alcohol-related issues later in life than those who begin at age 20 or older, so it is important to have informed conversations about alcohol with young people from a young age.

We simply cannot ignore the reality which is that young Irish people are far more likely to binge drink than their European counterparts while Irish teenage girls now drink as much alcohol as boys, a trend uncommon in other parts of the world. The impact this can have on long-term health and wellbeing cannot be underestimated. We are here to support parents and resources like our information booklets can help parents to confidently discuss this important topic with their children. Of course finishing either the Junior or Leaving Cert should be celebrated, but we should not accept that alcohol is synonymous with these events.”

The research also revealed that:

  • Alcohol’s impact on long-term mental health is cited by parents as the most important topic to include when talking to their children about alcohol – 20% compared to 9% in our 2015 research.
  • 3 in 4 parents do not obtain any information before they initiate a conversation about alcohol with their children. However, this figure has doubled since Drinkaware’s first research with parents was conducted in 2015.
  • One-quarter of parents do not know the rules about alcohol set by the parents of their child’s friends. The same number (25%) have not communicated their rules to the parents of their child’s friends.
  • One-fifth of parents would allow their child to drink at a friend’s house under the age of 18 (fathers are more likely to allow this).
  • One-quarter of parents don’t know the rules of their child’s best friend’s parents in relation to drinking alcohol. Same number believe other parents don’t know their rules.
  • Young people are more likely to see their parents consuming alcohol at family celebrations such as weddings and communions than any other location, with 78% of parents survey stating this.

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