Teen binge drinking problem

Chances are that if you have a teen, you’ve had to grapple with the idea of giving them alcohol. Maybe you’re the type of parent that thinks giving them a sip of your drink or a beer might better help them understand drinking. It’s often thought that if you enable them at a younger age under your watchful eye, they’ll make smarter decisions when it comes to consuming alcohol when they’re of legal age.

While it sounds like a good idea in your head, according to new research it does just the opposite.

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“It is, unfortunately, well-intentioned, but not a good idea,” said Richard Mattick, professor of drug and alcohol studies at the University of New South Wales and a co-author of the research. “All you are doing is giving your permission to kids to drink.”

Mattick and his colleagues observed the actions of more than 1,900 school kids from around the age of 12 over a six-year period. Once a year over that period, both the teen and their parents filled out different questionnaires about their alcohol habits. Surveys included questions about alcohol abuse, binge drinking, and how the teens accessed their alcohol.

The research was recently published in the journal Lancet Public Health. It established that parents who provided alcohol to their teen didn’t prevent binge drinking, but rather, it was linked to an increase in teens finding alcohol through other sources.

Only 15 percent of parents gave their teens alcohol at the start of the study. Those teens would be the age of 12. While towards the end of the six years that number climbed to 60 percent.

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At the end of the study, 81 percent of the teens surveyed that drank alcohol from both their parents and other sources were binge drinking. Binge drinking defined by the study was four or more drinks consumed in one sitting. In contrast, 62 percent of the teens who had gotten their alcohol by other means – not from their parents – were binge drinking.

It’s to be noted that this was an observational study. It can’t prove that your child will binge drink if you give them alcohol.

Have you given your teen alcohol in the past? Does this study change your views on supplying your child with a drink? Let us know.