UK & World News
Kids Get 'First Booze At Age 13' From Parents
British children on average are aged 13 when their parents allow them to try alcohol, a new study has revealed.
Exactly half of 10 to 17-year-olds who have had a drink say it was their parents who supplied the alcohol, the poll for charity Drinkaware found, making adults the most common gateway source.
Nearly 75% said they would turn to their parents first for advice about alcohol, while 43% of parents worried that their child's friends have a greater influence on drinking behaviour than they do.
In those families where the child had consumed alcohol, the average age at which parents allowed them to have the first drink was 13.8 years old, according to the study.
Of the 10 to 17-year olds polled who had drunk alcohol, 55% had been with their parents the last time they had a drink.
The study found that while most parents said it was important to talk to their children about alcohol, a third admitted shortcomings in their understanding about its effects.
The charity has decided to launch a 'Mumtank' panel of mothers, with experience ranging from health and child psychology to education, to help parents tackle issues around alcohol.
Drinkaware chief executive Chris Sorek said: "These findings will help to reassure parents that their children are more likely to go to them for advice about alcohol than their peers.
"So it's really important that they have the right advice, information and support to talk to their kids. Evidence shows that the earlier children start drinking, the more likely they are to drink more and more frequently as they grow up.
"Parents are key to tackling the UK's drinking culture in the long term, and we want to help them ensure their kids don't grow up to be the next generation of binge drinkers.
Carrie Longton, the co-founder of Mumsnet and a member of the Mumtank panel, said: "Talking to children about alcohol can be a complex and tricky issue, and we know from Mumsnetters that there is concern about when and how to best tackle the subject.
"Mumtank is all about raising awareness amongst parents of the importance of opening up a dialogue about alcohol with their children earlier rather than later as well as arming parents with useful factual information tips and advice."
Superintendent Julie Whitmarsh of Devon and Cornwall Police, a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers group on reducing alcohol-related harm, has supported the initiative.
She said: "As a police officer on the frontline, I regularly witness firsthand the negative effects of underage drinking.
"Preventing the sale of alcohol to anyone under 18 is part of any police officer's role, but a more pressing problem that's harder to police is that of 'parent dealers' - parents supplying their children with drinks.
"The Mumtank is the ideal forum for this and I'm very pleased to be involved."