According to new research, half of all parents in the United Kingdom allow their children under 14 to drink alcohol at home, even though the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has warned against doing so. The study was based on a survey of over 1,000 parents by Churchill Home Insurance.
When children under the age of 14 consume alcohol, says the CMO, health risks increase, including alcohol-related accidents, violent incidents, and attempts at suicide.
The findings showed that 34% of mothers and fathers with kids under 14 used alcohol as an incentive to promote good behavior from their young ones. Eleven percent of parents with youngsters aged five to seven allowed them to drink at home.
Around a third of parents said they let their children drink at home so they can monitor their young ones’ drinking. One in five moms and dads allow children who are minors and are not family members to have alcohol in their homes.
Churchill Home Insurance Head Martin Scott said many UK parents think that allowing their kids to drink at home gives them a chance to teach their children how to drink responsibly and to offer their children alcohol in a safe and controlled venue:
“The challenge any parent will recognise is how to prevent excessive drinking, especially amongst teenagers,” Scott said, adding, “whenever people are drinking in the home, there is a greater risk of injury or property damage as alcohol has a significant impact on co-ordination.”
Alcohol Concern Chief Executive Joanna Simons explains that while introducing alcohol to children at home is considered by some to be a sound strategy, research finds that the younger kids are when they begin drinking, the likelier they are to have alcohol problems later in life.
Youngsters’ attitudes toward alcohol are shaped by the what they see when their parents are drinking. Adults in the household need to be models of moderate drinking habits, and experts say that giving kids an alcohol-free childhood is the best choice.
A social worker from Daventry in Northamptonshire, Heather Witherington, shares that she was offered drinks when she was young, but added that her family is Irish, a culture that makes drinking part of most activities.
Witherington says some members of her family have had trouble with drinking, but she feels that in her case, being allowed to have alcohol was about “managing risks,” according to Mario Cacciottolo of BBC News.
But Dr. Martin Scurr, a retired general practitioner, decided that since the brain of a child entering puberty is “critically vulnerable,” he began to worry about introducing a chemical that acts on the brain. Parents could disrupt the future functioning and structure of the brain by allowing alcohol into the a child’s routine.
Nicola Bartlett writes for the Mirror that one in seven parents reported seeing their young one have an accident while drinking alcohol at home. One in twenty parents said they had witnessed their child sustain a severe injury while consuming alcohol, and 8% stated they have seen their child suffer a minor injury.
UK government statistics show the number of 11 to 15 year-olds who have had an alcoholic beverage has dropped since 2003 and went down to an all-time low of 38% in 2014, according to Holly Christodoulou of The Sun.