With GCSE results out this week, many young people will be celebrating. So it’s a great time for parents to talk to their children about the dangers of underage drinking. Our colleague Gillian, Programme Manager and Adviser for South East England, will be out with local CAPs during the week to offer information and advice. But, she says, parents can make the first move and talk frankly about the dangers of binge drinking and encourage young people to have fun without alcohol.
“You may find your children want to celebrate with alcohol, ask you to buy it for them, or say they want to take it to a party – all difficult issues! And while you might think your teenagers don’t listen to a word you say, as a parent you have an important role in making sure they know what’s within the law and what are the risks involved."
Drinking alcohol at a young age brings serious risks to young people’s health and development and puts them in danger of both physical and social harm. They are far more likely to injure themselves or someone else, fail to reach their potential at school and engage in anti-social behaviour.
For example, Drinkaware says that among 10-17 year olds who have had an alcoholic drink, 12% have experienced a serious harm as a result of their drinking (trouble with the police, being a victim of crime, been taken to hospital or gotten into a fight). If the police suspect someone under 18 has alcohol in a public place, they have the power to confiscate it. And there are consequences to repeatedly getting caught with alcohol including a social contract, a fine or arrest. Getting a criminal record could affect future job prospects and make it more difficult to travel to certain countries.
It’s important to know that it’s against the law for someone under 18 to buy alcohol, attempt to buy alcohol or to be sold alcohol. It’s also an offence for an adult to buy alcohol on behalf of someone who is under 18 (for example for them to take to a party). And it is illegal for someone under 18 to drink in a pub or restaurant unless they’re drinking wine or beer with an adult during a table meal.
If you’re not sure how to approach the subject – or get stuck for answers to your children’s questions, Drinkaware has some excellent advice. Take a look here: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/advice/underage-drinking/how-to-talk-about-alcohol/
Have a happy and safe results day!