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Last Updated: Friday, 11 May 2007, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Drinking at home 'cuts bingeing'
Teenage drinker
Teenage drinking is a major public health problem
Teenagers who drink alcohol with their parents in moderation are less likely to binge drink, research suggests.

The study also said that parents who do not want their children to drink behind their backs should limit their pocket money to less than 10 a week.

The study, led by Liverpool John Moores University, was based on responses from more than 10,000 15 and 16-year-olds.

Almost 90% admitted to drinking alcohol, of which 38% binged, 24% drank frequently and 50% drank in public.

Drinking in the home environment, if it is done properly, can teach young people respect for alcohol
Dr Mark Bellis
Liverpool John Moores University

The study also found a third of respondents bought their own alcohol, and those that did were six times more likely to drink in public, and twice as likely to binge than those who had alcohol bought for them.

Last month the charity Alcohol Concern called for parents who give alcohol to children aged under 15 to be prosecuted following figures suggesting a large increase in alcohol consumption by 11 to 13-year-olds.

Call for clampdown

But the latest study, published in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, questions this approach.

Lead researcher Dr Mark Bellis said figures suggested that 75% of 14-year-olds had tried alcohol.

"The question is: are they learning to drink from their parents in a socially responsible environment, or are they learning behind some bushes in the park, or in a bar where they should not be in the first place?

"The chances are if they are in the latter position they are learning to binge drink, they are hiding their drinking, they can't talk to their parents about it.

"Drinking in the home environment, if it is done properly, can teach young people respect for alcohol, and how to consume in moderation."

Dr Bellis said criminalising a parent for allowing a child to drink was probably not going to help any family.

Frank Soodeen, campaigns officer for Alcohol Concern, said the charity had taken its lead from the law, which prohibits under-15s from being served alcohol in public places.

He agreed that it was appropriate for parents to allow drinking in the home for older teenagers - but reiterated the charity's view that younger teenagers should not be encouraged to drink.

He said: "We agree that parents have a real role to play in raising socially responsible drinkers."

The researchers say that increasing the cost of alcohol, and closing down retailers who sell to underage drinkers could help tackle the problem.

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