Are you a parent/carer?

Health advice

Children and their parents and carers are advised that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option. However, if children drink alcohol, it should not be until at least the age of 15 years.

If young people aged 15 to 17 years consume alcohol, it should always be with the guidance of a parent or carer or in a supervised environment.

Your influence as an educator and role model

Be aware of the importance of your influence as an educator and role model. Many parents believe their children – especially teenagers - are more influenced by their peer group while in fact, more than 70% of teens say their parents are the number one influence.

We recommend making use of some of the resources on our website. Remember, use what you feel comfortable with and adapt the advice to your own parenting style.  

Understanding The Risks

There is no safe level of drinking for under 18s and an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option. As well as a range of physical and psychological harms drinking is linked to a range of social harms including poor educational performance, risky sexual behaviour and being a victim or perpetrator of crime and violence.


Liver damage

You might think that only lifelong alcoholics get liver disease, but regularly drinking too much can increase a young person’s chances of damaging their liver.


Brain development

Drinking when young people’s brains are still developing can have a long-term impact on memory, reactions and attention span.


Drinking in later life

If children binge drink, they are more likely to be binge drinkers as adults. Some studies have found a 4x increased likelihood of alcohol harm in adulthood for those who drink regularly before the age of 15.



The hormonal changes children go through at puberty make them more likely to take risks. Alcohol can further impair children’s judgement, leaving them vulnerable. Over a third (34%) of 16 and 17 year olds have walked home alone at night when drunk.


Accidents and injuries

Just as with adults, alcohol can reduce a child’s mental and physical abilities, affecting judgment and co-ordination and making them more likely to get injured or have accidents.


Unprotected sex

Alcohol affects rational decision-making skills and they are more likely to take risks like having unprotected sex. This can lead to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy.


Alcohol poisoning

Alcohol can be poisonous to anyone that drinks too much in a short space of time but children are especially vulnerable because of their smaller size. There were 10,569 alcohol specific hospital admissions for under 18s for the period 2018/19- 2020/21 in England – that’s almost 10 per day.


Mental health and suicide

Young people who drink regularly are more likely to have poor mental health, including self-harm and suicide. One in six children under 16 were identified as having a mental health problem in 2021 and more than four out of ten young people who drink alcohol report they are drinking to cope.  But alcohol will only worsen depression, anxiety and poor mental health and is also linked to higher rates of self-harm and suicide.


Education and truancy

Research shows that children who start to drink by age 13 are more likely to go on to have worse grades, skip school and, in the worst case scenario, be excluded from school. One study found that regular drinking by age 14 is linked to a 20 point drop in GCSE grades.



Alcohol affects your skin, can cause weight gain and disrupts sleep patterns.


Drug abuse

Compared to non-drinkers, underage drinkers are more likely to smoke tobacco, use cannabis and other drugs.


Aggression and violence

Children and teenagers who drink may behave and react unpredictably. They have less self-control and their brains struggle to recognise “warning signs”. This can lead to aggression and fights. Research shows that their risk of being involved in violence and serious vandalism increases the more alcohol they drink. This can lead to arrest and a criminal record.