According to a new research, one in six UK parents allow their teenage children to consume alcohol. Researchers are concerned that this could lead to increased risks of social and health problems.

Young Alcohol Drinkers

A study conducted by researchers from Penn State revealed that one in six, or about 17 percent, of UK parents allowed their young teenage kids to consume alcohol. By studying data from the ongoing Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), researchers found that some teenagers as young as 13 and 14 years old already had experiences with alcohol with permission from their parents.

The MCS, a study in which over 10,000 UK children and their parents were followed, revealed that more educated, employed, and alcohol drinking parents were more likely to let their children consume alcoholic drinks as young as 14 years old. In fact, one in eight of the children in the study reported alcohol consumption before the age of 11.

Researchers found no links between the likelihood to permit alcohol consumption and single or teenage parenthood, parental drinking level, and the child's gender.

Permissive Attitude About Early Drinking

Researchers state that the permissive attitude about early adolescent alcohol consumption may prove problematic given the amount of research linking early drinking to social and health problems. These include heavy drinking, delinquency, and school failure. In fact, just last November, yet another study came out stating that teenagers who drink alcohol and smoke marijuana are less likely to succeed in life compared to their peers, and had lower educational achievements and financial potential.

"Some parents may believe that allowing children to drink will teach them responsible use or may in fact inoculate them against dangerous drinking. However, there is little research to support these ideas," said Jennifer L. Maggs, Ph.D., coauthor of the study, also stating that some parents may think that the practice is somehow protective.

The Need For Awareness

In response to the results of the study, Katherine Brown of the Institute of Alcohol Studies stated that The American Academy of Pediatrics stands firm on their recommendation that a childhood free of alcohol is best for the youth, especially since the substance can harm their still-developing brains and bodies.

Given the results, Brown expressed her concern that parents who are trying to educate their children on alcohol consumption do not seem to heed the recommendation. As such, there may be the need to further educate parents on the matter to promote awareness of the potential dangers of drinking.

The results of the study are published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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