IN A SURVEY of nearly 250 parents, conducted by Reading Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP), 75% of parents said they would not provide alcohol for their 16-year-old son or daughter for a house party with close friends.
The survey, called “how much is enough?” gave parents a choice between soft drinks only, a small number of beers, a bottle of wine or spirits and the significant majority opted for soft drinks only.
The survey, the first in the borough, explored social norms around access to alcohol by underage young people. Previous surveys from the young people themselves showed that those who did drink were often given alcohol by parents.
It was believed that parents may be pressured by their teenagers into giving them alcohol for such occasions because that was “what everyone else did”.
According to the survey results though, that is not the case. It is hoped that this information will help empower parents and teenagers to make the right choices around alcohol.
The Chief Medical Officer for England’s guidelines say that an alcohol free childhood is the healthiest and best option.
The law around retailing alcohol is clear – it is a crime to sell alcohol to anyone under 18 and for anyone under 18 to attempt to buy alcohol. Adults can also break the law if they buy alcohol on behalf of anyone under the age of 18.
The only exception is when the adult buys beer, wine or cider for a 16 or 17 year old with a table meal in licensed venue, such as a pub or restaurant.
Lead Councillor for the CAP, Sarah Hacker, said:
“I hope parents take assurance from this survey that when they say no, they are in tune with the majority of Reading parents and share their views that drinking alcohol at a young age brings serious risks to children’s health and development, and puts them in danger of both physical and social harm.”
Community Alcohol Partnerships are made up of partnerships between local authorities, police, schools, retailers, neighbourhood groups and health providers, working together to empower communities to tackle alcohol-related harm to young people and improve the quality of life for residents.
They aim to reduce the sale of alcohol to young people, advise them on the dangers of drinking and provide alcohol-free activities through youth services and local charities.
CAP chairman Derek Lewis said:
“I hope parents will take heart from this survey that they are not alone when they say no to providing alcohol to their children. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of children have not only drunk alcohol before the age of 18 but are likely to have been drunk at least once in the last four weeks, which can be seriously damaging to their health and development.”