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Child Alcohol Abuse

6% of American 12 to 14 Year Olds Drink Alcohol in Any Given Month

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posted 10:32 PM EST, Tue March 08, 2011

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), about 6% of kids between the ages of 12 and 14 are drinking alcohol in any given month – almost none of them are paying for it, and about 15% of them have parents who knowingly provide the booze.

US govt. researchers asked more than 44 000 young people (between the ages of 12 and 14) about their drinking habits as a part of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Key Findings:

  • 5.9% of those surveyed (roughly 700 000 kids) admitted to drinking alcohol within a month of being asked
  • 15.7% of those who had drank within a month of being surveyed said that a parent provided the alcohol and another 13.9% got the alcohol from another family relative.
  • About 15% took alcohol from the home without asking
  • 19% got alcohol from another underage person
  • In all, 93.4% of those who drank got their alcohol for free

In commenting on the findings, SAMHSA Director, Pamela S. Hyde, reminded parents that, "People who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are six times more likely than those who start at age 21 and older to develop alcohol problems. Parents and other adults need to be aware that providing alcohol to children can expose them to an increased risk for alcohol abuse and set them on a path with increased potential for addiction."

SAMHSA officials urge parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of underage drinking and to prevent unauthorized access to alcohol by securing liquor stored in the home under lock and key – and importantly, to never provide very young teens with alcohol within the home.


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  • Tween Drinking: 6% of American 12 to 14 year olds are drinking in any given month
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