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Half of Australian Parents Think It’s OK for 15 Year Olds to Drink

posted 01:42 AM EST, Wed December 09, 2009
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Half of Australian Parents Think It’s OK for 15 Year Olds to Drink © Photo Credit: Garry

About half of Australians think that it’s OK for 15-17 year olds to drink at home, so long as they are supervised by parents – an attitude that’s causing frustration to health workers who are striving to spread the word about the dangers of early exposure to alcohol.

Alcohol prevention experts in Australia say they’re frustrated by results from a survey of Australians administered by MBF Healthwatch that has revealed some surprisingly permissive parental attitudes about teen drinking.

When asked about the acceptability of 15-17 year old teens drinking alcohol at home, under supervision from parents:

  • 63% of Australians earning more than $100 000 annually agreed with the practice of supervised drinking
  • 53% of those earning more than $70 000 annually agreed with the practice
  • 48% of those earning more than $40 000 annually agreed with the practice

BUPA Australia Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Christine Bennet, said that although many parents may believe that supervised drinking teaches teens about appropriate social consumption of alcohol, that these parents may be doing harm to their children by allowing these teens, with still developing brains, to consume alcohol.

In describing the harms of early exposure to alcohol, she states, "Evidence suggests that the earlier the age that alcohol is introduced, the greater the risk of long-term alcohol related health problems… Too much alcohol impairs young people's judgment which can lead to violence, injury and build a pattern of use that leads to lifetime dependence.”

Early and heavy exposure to alcohol can also disrupt brain development and function, which can have permanent neurological consequences.

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