Underage Drinking: What Parents Should Know
Earlier this year, health groups called the attention of Victoria State Government on a loophole found in the state laws. According to Victoria’s current legislation, children under the age of 18 can enter pubs, have a meal, and be served alcoholic drinks if accompanied by an adult. Based on research, no other state has the same provision (or loophole) on underage drinking.
Binge drinking has always been an issue in Australia. Sometimes, the problem lies in not just enjoying a drink or two, the challenge lies in the intention of getting drunk because it’s “in”. Worst is when teenagers, children under the age of 18, are also affected by this behaviour. According to a US study, teenagers’ exposure to movies and media in general, highly affect youth’s alcohol consumption. The study reported that teenagers who watch movies featuring alcohol are 50% more likely to start drinking compared to those who weren’t exposed to such media. Probably it’s no wonder we’ve seen the abundance of certified breathalysers in the market, too!
Underage Drinking in Numbers
Australian research reports that in 2016, 82% of 12-17-year-olds are abstaining from underage drinking. The average age of initiation (i.e. the first time they consumed alcohol) has increased from 14.4 years in 1998 to 16.1 years in the same year.
However, of those 12-17-year-olds who had consumed alcohol, around 17% drank in an average of two standard drinks every day for a year. The report further stated that “males were more than twice as likely as females to exceed the lifetime risk guidelines in 2016 (24% compared with 9.8%)”.
The numbers are in decline this is why it’s important for parents to show support to their kids and be a dominant influence in their youngsters.
Prevention of underage binge drinking
Parents have an important role in reinforcing the do’s and don’ts in drinking in their own households. There are a couple of useful tips parents and guardians can do to help prevent their kids from getting hooked on drinking.
- Set rules on drinking. Be sure to elaborate when and where it is allowed or if its even allowed. Be firm about these rules and make sure they are irrevocable.
- Don’t reinforce double standards. By this, we mean to allow them to drink when they’re out as a family and then prevent them when they are out with friends.
- Sit down with your youngsters and explain to them the harmful effects of drinking alcohol, whether it is beer or wine. Expound further on the risks of binge drinking and how will this affect their overall well-being.
- Be a role model. The kids will take inspiration from you. When you talk them out of drinking or discuss its possible effect, your authority weighs more if you yourself practice what you preach.
- Encourage them to dedicate their time to sports or hobbies. Discuss with them the things they are passionate about and encourage them to pursue it.