Parents are too slow and insufficiently active in teaching their children about alcohol, according to new research from drinks industry body the Drinkaware Trust.
Only 40% of parents questioned actually initiate conversations about alcohol with their children. The other 60% address questions only when asked.
According to the research, conducted by ICM, the average age at which parents think they ought to talk to their children about alcohol is 14-and-a-half.
This is at least a year too late, the research indicates, as 16- and 17-year-olds interviewed claimed the average age they started drinking was 13-and-a-half. In the UK parents are allowed to give children alcohol at home from the age of five.
The UK government’s chief medical adviser, Sir Liam Donaldson, has been outspoken in his views about alcohol and the young.
Earlier this year he said, ‘Parents and young people should be aware that drinking, even at age 15 or older, can be hazardous to health. Not drinking is the healthiest option for young people.’
He has estimated that 360,000 children aged 15 and under are getting drunk on a weekly basis across the UK.
Education about alcohol in schools currently forms part of the non-statutory Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE).
Last week Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, announced his intention to make PSHE compulsory for all primary and secondary school children in the UK.
Beverley Blanning MW examines how parents teach their children about wine in the July issue of Decanter magazine, out 3 June
Written by Beverley Blanning