Parents’ behaviour ‘can influence teen drinking’

BBC News 16 June 2011

Children who see their parents drunk are twice as likely to regularly get drunk themselves, a survey of young teenagers has suggested. Poor parental supervision also raises the likelihood of teenage drinking, said the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The Ipsos MORI survey found the behaviour of friends is also a powerful factor in predicting drinking habits. The more time teenagers spend with friends, the more likely they are to drink alcohol, it suggested. In a survey of 5,700 children aged 13 to 16, carried out for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, researchers found one in five claimed to have been drunk by the time they were 14. By the age of 16, half of those questioned said they had been drunk.

But the study also looked at what influences excessive teen drinking – and the habits of parents seem to be particularly powerful. The odds of a teenager getting drunk repeatedly is twice as great if they have seen their parents under the influence, even if only a few times. And the authors say that parental supervision is also important – if parents don’t know where their children are on a Saturday night, or let them watch 18 certificate films unsupervised, they are more likely to have had an alcoholic drink. Teenagers’ friends also have a significant impact on drinking behaviour. The odds of a teenager drinking to excess more than double if they spend more than two evenings a week with friends. Spending every evening with friends multiplies the odds of excessive drinking more than four times.