Teen drinking linked to parents’ habits

on 20/06/11 at 10:00 am

Booze News

A survey has revealed that “children who see their parents drunk are twice as likely to regularly get drunk themselves,” reported BBC News. Several newspapers also covered this news story.

The reports are of a survey conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a charity that funds a nationwide research and development programme aimed at better understanding the UK’s social problems and how these can be overcome. As one of its research projects, the foundation conducted this study, published today, which explored the relationship that young people in the UK have with alcohol, and the factors that influence their drinking habits.

The report, called “Young people, alcohol and influences”, presents the findings of a survey of 5,700 teenagers aged 13–14 years old (year 9) and 15–16 (year 11) in schools in England. The study gathered information on the students’ drinking patterns and looked into the wide range of factors that can influence them, such as family, media and the area in which they live. The researcher wanted to get a better understanding of the relative importance of these factors when considering how best to tackle drinking in young people.

What did the report find?

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation conducted the report with two main aims:

  • to examine the circumstances surrounding a young person’s first drink, and to look at their current drinking patterns, including the amount consumed and experiences of drunkenness
  • to improve understanding of what really influences a young person’s drinking pattern by identifying the factors that most strongly influence their behaviour

The key findings of the report were:

  • 70% of year 9 students and 89% of year 11 students had had an alcoholic drink, but regular drinking was more common among year 11 students than those in year 9.
  • The most common age for having a first alcoholic drink was 12–13 years old, and this usually took place in the presence of an adult and when celebrating a special occasion.
  • Drinking more frequently was most likely:
    − if the teen received less supervision from a parent or other close adult
    − if they spent more than two evenings a week with friends, especially if these friends drank
    − if they were exposed to a close family member, especially a parent, whom they saw drinking or getting drunk
    − if they thought positively about drinking and its effects
    − if alcohol was easily accessible
  • The report also found that while friends clearly play an important influential role, family has a direct effect on teens’ behavior. Parents or guardians are often involved in a child’s first experience of alcohol, exposing them to drunkenness, and are responsible for the amount of supervision a teenager is given (such as knowing where they are on evenings when they are away from home).

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