Danger in letting teens drink under supervision
PARENTS should not think giving their teenagers alcohol helps them to drink safely and protects them from future drinking-related harm, a new study has found.
In fact, it will lead them to drink more, not less, according to researchers from the University of New South Wales.
"It is a common belief that supplying alcohol to adolescents at home in a safe, supervised, and moderate way is likely to reduce risky drinking behaviour despite a lack of robust evidence supporting this view," Philip Clare, a research fellow from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre said.
"Families should be advised that any supply of alcohol to adolescents, especially those aged 16 or younger, should be avoided as there is no benefit and is instead likely to increase how often adolescents drink," Mr Clare said.
The landmark longitudinal study involved 1927 pairs of young people and parents, with the adolescents recruited into the study when they were an average age of 12.9 years and followed for five years.
Researchers found 15 per cent of kids in year seven were given alcohol by their parents, rising to 56 per cent by the time they got to year 12.
Nine per cent of grade sevens were given alcohol by other people, rising to 70 per cent in year 12.
"In early adolescence, those who received alcohol from their parents tended to drink less frequently than those who received alcohol from other sources, with 5.8% of those who received alcohol from parents in Grade 7 saying they drank at least weekly, compared with 8.5% of those who received alcohol from other sources," Mr Clare said.
However, when the influence of other factors like parent drinking were eliminated from the model, parental supply of alcohol was associated with over three times the rate of drinking among younger adolescents.
This difference that diminished as adolescents got older, but at no point led to lower rates of drinking by those supplied by parents.
"Even a single wave of supply by parents was associated with increased alcohol consumption in the final wave, regardless of when that supply occurred," Mr Clare said.
"Parental supply was not associated with lower consumption of alcohol at any age."
Writing in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Mr Clare concluded that "there is no evidence to suggest that parental supply is beneficial at any stage of adolescence".