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Almost half of children have seen parents drunk

The poll also found 42 per cent of parents admitting that their child had seen them or their partner drunk. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The poll also found 42 per cent of parents admitting that their child had seen them or their partner drunk. Picture: Ian Rutherford

  • by JANE BRADLEY
 

ALMOST half of ten-to 14-year-olds have seen their parents drunk, according to a new UK-wide survey.

Research from the industry-funded charity Drinkaware found that 46 per cent had seen their parents drunk, with 29 per cent saying they had seen it on more than one occasion.

The poll of 1,000 parents and their children also found 42 per cent of parents admitting that their child had seen them or their partner drunk.

But 72 per cent of parents said they felt very confident talking to their child about drinking and 75 per cent believed they were best-placed to do so.

The alcohol education charity said children could be receiving mixed messages about the consumption of alcohol if their parents are telling them not to drink, but are regularly seen drinking and getting drunk themselves.

It is encouraging parents to consider the impact their own drinking has on their children.

Evidence shows that what children see and what they are told are both influential in shaping their understanding of “normal” or socially acceptable drinking behaviour.

The group has previously campaigned for parents to talk to their children about alcohol in their pre-teen years and help them resist pressure, including from their peers, to drink.

Tina Woolnough, spokeswoman for the National Parent Forum of Scotland, said that drinking had become a part of daily life for many families.

“In some ways, I am surprised the number of children who have seen their parents drunk is not higher,” she said. “I think it is a cultural norm.

“But it becomes very difficult for parents to have an input into their children’s behaviour if they do not practise what they preach.

“I think children very quickly see weak spots in their parents’ point of view and the position they take is they don’t practise what they preach when they are trying to give their children guidance about drink.”

She added: “I think there’s a real cultural problem for children to see their parents drinking regularly.”

Elaine Hindal, chief executive of Drinkaware, said: “While setting rules about alcohol and speaking to children about the risks is a positive step, equally important is that parents understand their significant influence as role models and feel confident to set a good example. Children are aware of alcohol from a young age. Estimates suggest that around one in three children under 16 in the UK lives with an adult binge-drinker.

“And studies show that the odds of a teenager getting drunk double if they have seen their parents drunk – even if only on a few occasions.

“Understanding the impact of what parents say as well as what they do is important, as both can shape children’s attitudes towards alcohol.”

It is estimated that 3.4 million children live with an adult binge drinker. An estimated 740,000 live with a heavy or hazardous drinker.

Meanwhile, research shows that children who think they have seen their parents drunk are significantly more likely to have been drunk on multiple occasions than those who have not seen their parents drunk, Drinkaware said.

 

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