No alcohol' urged for under-15s

By Rightnow289 · Feb 1, 2009 · ·
  1. Rightnow289
    Children aged under 15 should never be given alcohol, even in small quantities, England's chief medical officer has advised parents.


    Sir Liam Donaldson said childhood should be an "alcohol-free time", as ministers prepare to publish guidance on the issue for the first time.
    He told BBC News children who drink were at risk of "serious harm".
    It is legal for parents to give a child over five alcohol in the home and the guidance is not expected to become law.
    The guidance is published after the CMO's team reviewed the medical evidence on the effects of under-age drinking.
    It comes after a recent survey suggested 20% of 13-year-olds drank alcohol at least once a week.

    'Serious risks'

    The guidance also says children aged 15-17 should not be given alcohol on more than one day a week - and then only under supervision from carers or parents.
    Sir Liam told the BBC the practical advice was a direct response from parents who wanted information on the health effects of giving children alcohol.
    "It is advice to parents. It's their choice at the end of the day within the family setting," he said.
    "There is serious harm that can come to children if they drink and the main advice is that childhood should be an alcohol-free time. Certainly under the age of 15 there are serious risks."
    The advice is the first on children and alcohol produced by the government, but it is understood there is no intention to back it with legislation. The public will be asked its views during a three month consultation period.
    Ministers and doctors are worried by rising rates of binge-drinking and alcohol-related liver disease in the young and see the guideline as a necessary step in preventing people getting a taste for alcohol at too young an age.

    'Pocket money prices'

    However, some parents, and researchers, have argued that giving a child an occasional drink helps demystify alcohol, and reduces the chance of bingeing later on.
    Damion Queva, publisher of Fathers' Quarterly magazine, told the BBC he had given his daughter a small glass of champagne and orange juice on her 13th birthday.
    "Teenagers shouldn't be drinking but in the real world it happens and they are going to get it elsewhere.
    "Parents can take control by taking the mystique out of it by giving them a taste and educating their children about alcohol and abuse of alcohol."

    'Drinking every day'

    Ali is 16 but had his first drink at 10. He told the BBC he has been working with the Glaciere Project in Liverpool for 18 months, which helps children give up drinking by teaching them sailing and scuba diving.
    He's also stopped drinking: "I was hanging around with a lot of older people and they gave me the drink and I progressed further.
    "I was just getting myself into trouble. It just became a part of every day that you would have a drink."
    Professor Ian Gilmore, the president of the Royal College of Physicians and chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: "Alcohol is a drug; it's a drug of addiction.
    "There's some evidence that youngsters who taste it early are more likely to become alcohol dependent in later life.
    "One mustn't lose sight of the fact that alcohol is the biggest cause of death in young men aged 16-24.
    "I think one of the key recommendations is that there should be parental supervision between 15 and 17 years of age - we know every year young people die from alcohol poisoning."
    The Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Norman Lamb said: "We have to focus on getting the message across about the potential health risks of excessive alcohol consumption.
    "However, we must be careful to support parents who are giving sound advice to their children and not undermine their judgement."
    But the social care charity, Turning Point, said: "What is being overlooked today is the fact that one in 11 children, often living in some of our poorer communities, are more likely to go on to have devastating alcohol and emotional problems because of parental alcohol misuse.
    "At the moment there is simply not enough help for children and families affected by alcohol misuse."
    Wales' CMO Dr Tony Jewell said he would await the outcome of England's consultation before issuing any guidance.
    In Scotland and Northern Ireland information and advice for parents is due to be issued shortly.

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  1. doggy_hat
    "There's some evidence that youngsters who taste it early are more likely to become alcohol dependent in later life."

    That may be so, but what's the difference in development of alcohol dependence between ones who learned to drink in moderation, and ones who started drinking in party environments?

    Also, they kept saying it'll cause serious harm, but they never once clarified why it does.
  2. Rightnow289
    At the end of the day kids in France are allowed to drink earl on in life and most kids over there don't drink like brits so their logic is flawed and is a very big backards step
  3. cra$h
    early drinkers are just more curious. It doesn't matter if you start drinking at 10, or 30, if you like something you're going to keep at it. It's just that when kids start drinking early, they can keep up with the standards, and surpass that of a 40 yr old drinker. Plus the reasons for drinking for drinking are different. A beer instead of a pepsi is the midset of an old head, and kids who drink early just develope that faster. it's a complicated thing to type, but I think i got the general Idea down.
  4. ConcertaXL
    I was barely allowed to drink at age 15, only wine at Christmas and New Year and my mum told me not to drink at parties... the use of alcohol at a young age is definitely a health risk and I would prefer my young teen to be on OxyContin or uppers if I had one. 16 is a good age to start drinking more often (but not to the point of intoxication- I cannot support this). I often think the legal age to buy it should be reduced 18->16 but this would only make it easier and more attractive for 12 year olds to get vodka and alcopops, so maybe not such a cool idea.
  5. aerozeppelin123
    I think the system they have in Germany is good. You have to be 16 to buy beers and wines and other relatively low strength drinks, but 18 to get spirits like whiskey, vodka etc. In Europe in general they seem to have a far more mature attitude to alcohol (adults and teenagers) than we do here - it is much less strictly enforced but they don't (yet) have the huge problems we have with teenage binge drinking. I think that children should be introduced to sensible drinking by their parents, it removes a lot of the rebellious aspect of it and means that their first encounters with alcohol are in a controlled and safe environment. Instead of in a field with a bunch of mates and a bottle of vodka, as seems to be very common in the UK.
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