Can Giving Alcohol To Your Teens Teach Them To Drink Responsibly?


Parents who think that giving alcohol to their teenage kids would reduce drinking-related risks could be wrong.

Findings of a new study have revealed that they could be doing more harm to their kids.

Giving Alcohol To Kids

Some parents give alcohol to their kids to introduce them to drinking carefully. The practice is thought to protect kids from the dangers of heavy drinking.

Researchers of the new study, however, said that this seems to do more harm than good. Just like other teens, those whose parents provide them with alcohol are also likely to get alcohol elsewhere.

For the study, Richard Mattick from the University of New South Wales and his colleagues followed nearly 2,000 teens between 12 and 18 years old over a period of six years.

By the end of the study, 81 percent of the teens who received alcohol from their parents and other people binged drink. The rate was 62 percent in those who got alcohol only from others and 25 percent in those who received alcohol only from their parents.

The researchers also found that kids whose parents provide them with alcohol in a year were twice as likely to get it elsewhere the following year.

The findings of the study suggest that giving alcohol to kids does not help them deal with alcohol responsibility. The practice does not also reduce the odds that they will get alcoholic drinks from other sources.

"Providing alcohol to children is associated with alcohol-related harms," the researchers wrote in their study. There is no evidence to support the view that parental supply protects from adverse drinking outcomes by providing alcohol to their child. Parents should be advised that this practice is associated with risk, both directly and indirectly through increased access to alcohol from other sources."

Advice To Parents

Mothers Against Drunk Driving National President Colleen Sheehey-Church advised parents to talk to their teens about the risks of underage drinking. Besides being illegal, teenage drinking poses harm to the developing brain and may lead to terrible consequences such as accidents, missing out on the college of their choice and getting removed from their sports team.

It is also crucial that parents model responsible drinking behavior to their kids.

"If you're misbehaving with alcohol, they're going to misbehave," said MADD's National Director of Programs Kim Morris.

The study was reported in The Lancet Public Health on Jan. 25.

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