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Can parents teach children to drink responsibly? Or is one drop a drop too many?

image - Tasmania
Date Published:
28 Sep 2010
Contact person:
Marion Downey
+612 9385 1080 / 0401 713 850

Tasmanian families asked to participate in the Drinking and Teens Project

Researchers from the University of Tasmania and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) in Sydney are hoping that Tasmanian high school children and their families will help to provide some of the answers to the crucial question: can parents teach their children to drink responsibly?

The researchers will this week be speaking to over 800 Tasmanian Year 7 students, their teachers and their families about the “Drinking and Teens Project” which will investigate the role that parents play in adolescents’ drinking habits.

Chief Investigator Professor Richard Mattick from NDARC at the University of New South Wales in Sydney says that the study plans to recruit 1,000 year seven students and their families from all over Australia and follow them over four and a half years.

The aim is to see what impact families’ behaviours and beliefs around alcohol have on adolescents and young adults in the long term.

“We know that nearly 40 per cent of 12 year olds and more than half of 13 year olds have tried alcohol in the past year,” says Professor Mattick. “We also know that 40 per cent of young Australians binge drink each year and nearly a third binge drinks monthly.

“For many families binge drinking among adolescents is a major concern and the vast majority of parents believe it is their responsibility to teach their children to drink responsibly but most are not sure of the best way to go about it.”

Joint Chief Investigator Dr Raimondo Bruno from the University of Tasmania said the results of the five year project will give families some vital information.

“There are many different cultural responses to alcohol. Some cultures believe in giving children a sip at the family table when they are very young. Others take a zero tolerance approach.

“Prior to the age of 18 adolescents and young adults get most of their alcohol from their parents. What we are trying to ascertain is what influence parents have on drinking behaviour and harms from drinking.”

Parents and children who wish to be involved in this vital research will be given a 15 minute online confidential survey to complete with questions about using and not using alcohol and about family and friendships. They will be given follow up surveys to complete every nine months over the following four and half years.

Bob Phillips, General Manager of Learning Services South East said he hoped that Tasmanian families would consider taking part in this important study.

“Responsible use of alcohol is an important societal issue. Most parents want to do the right thing and information from studies such as this helps in making informed decisions.

“This study has been rated one of the top three Australian Research Council projects for 2010 and will help assist in providing families with concrete evidence about how best to approach this issue.”

The study is supported by a $750,000 Australian Research Council Grant. Researchers from the Universities of New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland and Newcastle will be collaborating on the national study.