South Tyneside parents are being warned about the risks to their children from alcohol as a new campaign encourages them to delay the moment when their child first starts to drink.
It comes as new figures suggest parenting tactics aimed at creating a safer relationship with alcohol and introducing drinking at a younger age could actually be giving our children a taste for booze.
Balance is launching the What’s the Harm campaign in Alcohol Awareness Week to raise awareness of Chief Medical Officer guidance that an alcohol free childhood up to 18 is the healthiest option, and that if children do drink this should not be before age 15.
A new survey of North East parents shows nearly eight in 10 would first talk to their children about alcohol before the age of 15, but almost half think children should have their first taste of alcohol before 15 – despite evidence showing children who start drinking at an early age are more likely to become heavy drinkers.
Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: “We found that a lot of parents were not aware of official guidance around children, and were more likely to call on their own experiences growing up when making decisions about alcohol.
“It is also interesting that fewer children are drinking regularly than they did 15 years ago, which we hope will empower more parents not to provide it if they are pressured to.”
Councillor Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing at South Tyneside Council, said: “We know alcohol affects children during their development and we would encourage parents to help their children stay healthy by discouraging the consumption of any alcohol before the age of 18.
“We are also currently working with South Shields Football Club Foundation to encourage more adults to adopt a healthy lifestyle, become more active and drink no more than 14 units per week.
“This is equivalent to drinking no more than six pints of average-strength beer or seven medium-sized glasses of wine a week.”