Over one in ten Irish parents believe it acceptable for children to drink at home before the age of 15 10 months ago

Over one in ten Irish parents believe it acceptable for children to drink at home before the age of 15

Drinkaware carried out a survey of Irish parents ahead of the release of the Junior Certificate results this week.

14% of Irish parents believe that it is acceptable for children to drink alcohol at home before the age of 15, according to a new report commissioned by Drinkaware.

The Behaviour and Attitudes Research, conducted with 503 parents of children between the ages of 11 and 15 from across Ireland, also found that 61% of Irish parents have very definitive rules on consuming alcohol before the age of 18, although one-third of those parents have not informed their children about those rules.

The report also found that 20% of parents would allow children under the age of 18 to drink at a friend’s house (fathers were found to be more likely to allow this) and that seven out of 10 parents believe that their own drinking habits influence their children’s attitudes towards alcohol.

The survey was carried out ahead of the release of the Junior Cert exam results on Wednesday, 13 September, with Drinkaware appealing to parents to talk openly and honestly with their children about alcohol.

Drinkaware issued the following advice for parents and guardians to help ensure the Junior Cert results night is a safe one:

  • Don’t wait for an alcohol-related incident to happen; talk to children early and often.
  • Talk openly about their plans: Who is going? Where is it? How will they get home? Will alcohol be available? When is the curfew?
  • Set rules for the night together: You should both be fully aware of your rules in relation to alcohol. What are the consequences for breaking the rules?
  • Engage with other parents: Talk to the parents of your child’s friends and ensure you are familiar with their rules about alcohol.
  • Safety is key: Remind your child that they can call or text you if they feel unsafe or unwell at any point during the night.
  • Provide an alternative to a night out: Could you host a party in your home? If so, remember that it is illegal to serve alcohol to minors and parental supply of alcohol is associated with increased risks.

Drinkaware have developed a comprehensive parents’ hub at drinkaware.ie/parents, with a range of age-appropriate facts, advice and resources to help initiate and guide this important conversation between parents and young people.

Commenting on the survey, Mr Liam Twomey, Chief Medical Officer, Drinkaware said: “These results are a fantastic achievement and of course, should be celebrated. However, we are talking about young people who are about 15 years old. This is simply too young to be drinking alcohol and the harms associated with drinking from such a young age cannot be underestimated.

“This research highlights a worrying trend among parents with over half believing it is acceptable for their child to drink at home before the age of 18, which is in contrast to a growing evidence base against this practice. Young people are telling us that they are looking for alternatives to alcohol and now it’s time we listened to them and gave them the kind of practical knowledge and advice they can apply to stay safe and be healthy.”

Ms Niamh Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer of Drinkaware added: “We receive countless phone calls and emails from parents who are unsure of how to approach the subject of alcohol with their teenagers, particularly leading up to exam results time.

“They often worry that friends have more influence on if or when their child will drink alcohol, but this just isn’t the case. Family members, in particular parents, are the single strongest influence on young people’s attitudes towards alcohol. Parents should be empowered by this and get involved in their child’s plans for results night celebrations. Now is the time to have that all-important conversation about alcohol.”