Talking to teens about alcohol - five point guidance

publication date: Dec 31, 2009
no drinkingChildren's Secretary, Ed Balls, stressed that parents should "understand the importance of discussing alcohol with their children; it is really important that they make the link between alcohol and the impact it can have on a young person's safety.

"Research tells us that young people who regularly drink alcohol are more likely to fall behind in school, be involved in road traffic accidents or have unsafe sex. If parents discuss the link between alcohol and these other issues, they can make sure it's their child making the decisions, not the alcohol."

Sir Liam Donaldson,
the Chief Medical Officer, has now published guidance for young people and their families a clear five point alcohol advice guide.

The CMO’s five point alcohol guidance is:
  1. An alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option - if children drink alcohol, it should not be before they reach 15 years old.
  2. If young people aged 15 to 17 years old drink alcohol, it should always be with the guidance of a parent or carer or in a supervised environment;
  3. Parents and young people should be aware that drinking, even at age 15 or older, can be hazardous to health and not drinking is the healthiest option for young people. If children aged 15 to 17 drink alcohol they should do so infrequently and certainly on no more than one day a week. They should never drink more than the adult daily limits recommended by the NHS.
  4. The importance of parental influences on children's alcohol use should be communicated to parents, carers and professionals. Parents and carers need advice on how to respond to alcohol use and misuse by children.
  5. Support services must be available for children and young people who have alcohol-related problems and their parents.

As part of the government’s commitment to support and advise young people and their families about the risks associated with alcohol, a host of comedians – Bill Bailey, Jo Brand, Josie Long and Russell Kane – are lending their skills and support to a new online campaign which will run until the launch of a national advertising campaign in January which aims to help young people establish a safe and sensible relationship with alcohol.