Australia: Parents Condoning Alcohol Use in Children
A new survey has found parents are the main source of alcohol for high school children. Despite health warnings suggesting adverse effects of alcohol on the developing brain parents seem to provide their children with alcohol.
According to the survey, out of 20 000 high school students, more than 40% had been given their last alcoholic drink from a parent compared to 12% who took it from home and 11% who were given alcohol by an adult friend.
The survey further found almost half of high school students had consumed alcohol in the past 12 months. This ranged from 17% of 12 year olds to 76% of 17 year olds. More than half of students who consumed alcohol in the past week reported a negative outcome, which ranged from sickness and injury to verbal and physical fights and breaking the law.
There are clear guidelines on reducing childhood alcohol use issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Accordingly children under 15 years are placed at the highest risk from alcohol and should not be given alcohol. Initiation of alcohol use in children between 15 to 17 years must be reduced as much as possible.
Negative Effects of Childhood Alcohol Use
According to Richard Mattick, a professor of drug and alcohol studies at the University of NSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, there is no rationale for giving alcohol to children. Giving alcohol only leads to permissive attitudes and does not decrease alcohol use. In fact early initiation leads to increase in alcohol use in adulthood.
Kate Conigrave, a professor of addiction medicine at Sydney Medical School says parents giving alcohol to kids stems from a misguided sense of keeping children safe. The truth is that evidence suggests the opposite.
…the younger people start [consuming] alcohol, the more likely they are to run into problems,” said Kate Conigrave, as per The Sydney Morning Herald.
Alcohol use puts children specifically more at risk of injury, sexual assault or unprotected sex leading to a sexually transmitted infection or unwanted pregnancy. Further the developing brain of a child is specially sensitive to alcohol which can cause negative effects on the long-term.