Why are well off children more likely to use alcohol?
The study says most of these ‘rich kids’ got introduced to alcohol by their parents. This is because, unlike working-class parents, many of these more well-off parents enjoy a glass of wine with their dinner. At some point, many of these parents offer their children this ‘luxury’. The option to drink wine at dinner means better off children are more likely to use and abuse alcohol compared to poorer children.
The study also revealed that around 70% of children aged 15 and from wealthy families had tried alcohol during the past twelve months prior to the study being conducted. In contrast, less than 50% of children aged 15 and from more economically deprived households had tried alcohol in the last twelve months.
Overall, the study reveals three in five of those surveyed claim to have consumed an alcoholic beverage during the prior 12 months. Shockingly, the wealthiest teens surveyed were twice more likely to drink alcohol on a regular basis compared to their less wealthy counterparts.
Cultural, religious and racial variations
White teens were much more likely to have consumed an alcoholic beverage compared to black teens or teens belonging to an ethnic minority. 72% of white teens has consumed alcohol during the prior twelve months compared to only 27% of black teens or teens belonging to an ethnic minority.
The report points out that religion is a major reason for the differences between white and BME teens.
Worryingly, the report claims teens from wealthy upper-middle class families are more likely to drink regularly and even develop an addiction to alcohol.
The report also highlights region differences. For instance, 72% of teens living the south-west of England claim to have consumed alcohol on a regular basis during the 12 months prior to being surveyed. This compares to just 41% of teens living in London.
Does this study validate a change in the law?
Surprisingly, in the United Kingdom, it is not illegal for a person over the age of five to drink alcohol at home. Likewise, parents can legally buy alcohol for teens over the age of 16 when eating a meal at a licenced premises.
Dr Sarah Jarvis of Drinkaware said: “Alcohol can harm young people while they are still developing, which is why the UK chief medical officers say an alcohol-free childhood is the best option.
“Young people’s brains are still developing, and they may be more vulnerable to long-term effects on brain and educational achievement than adults even if they drink within government-recommended upper limits for adults.”
The dangers of childhood drinking
There are many clear health risks when children/teens drink alcohol.
These risks include:
- Liver damage
- Brain damage
- Heightened risk of injury in an accident
- Physical violence/affray
- Effect schoolwork
Dr Sarah Jarvis of Drinkaware recommends parents warn their children of the risks of alcohol consumption. She concludes: “As a parent, you have more influence than you might think. Your child is likely to come to you first for information and advice about alcohol, and you can help shape their attitudes and behaviour towards alcohol by being a role model for responsible drinking.”
We Brits could also follow French model, where children are only given wine after it has been mixed with equal proportions of water.
This post was written by Paul Clarke of Rehab 4 Addiction.