Call To Prosecute Parents Who Give Alcohol To Kids

Parents who give alcohol to children aged under 15 should be prosecuted, a charity has said. The call comes in an Alcohol Concern report on the government’s Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy.

{mosimage}The study highlights figures that suggest a large increase in the amount of alcohol drunk by 11 to 13-year-olds. Alcohol Concern also wants a 16% rise in alcohol taxes, a ban on brewers selling to retailers at a loss, and a crackdown on under-age alcohol sales. The charity would include meal times at home in the ban on giving alcohol to young people. Frank Soodeen, a campaigns officer for Alcohol Concern, said: “We are facing a new social reality where children seem to be adopting older behaviour at a younger age.

“One of the things we need to do is get parents on board.” He also suggested there was a need to consider new legislation regarding the issue. The charity would like to see a ban on alcohol advertising before the 9pm television watershed and non-18 certificate films in cinemas.

The National Curriculum should include alcohol education to teach about the dangers of binge drinking, it added. Alcohol Concern said the drink-drive limit should be lowered from 80mg to 50mg per 100ml of blood.

The figures, published by the NHS’s Information centre last November, showed boys aged 11 to 13 drank an average of 12 units of alcohol a week in 2006 compared to eight in 2000. The figure for girls increased from five units to eight.

Alcohol Concern chief executive Srabani Sen said: “Our report shows that we are simply not doing enough to protect our children from alcohol. Binge drinking by children can have serious consequences for brain function, significantly raises the risk of alcohol dependency in later life and diminishes their life chances.”

The charity’s Glass Half Empty report looked at the government’s strategy which was published three years ago.

Public health minister Caroline Flint said the government was serious about tackling alcohol-related harm and that levels of binge drinking was no longer rising. “Recent figures showed there has been a 5% drop between 2001 and 2006, of young people aged between 11 and 15 who had drunk alcohol in the previous week.

“The new alcohol strategy to be published this summer will continue to drive reductions in alcohol related offending and harmful behaviour through a combination of education, treatment and tough penalties.”

Meanwhile, the BBC’s Helen Neil said there were calls for alcohol education to be included in the national curriculum in order to raise awareness about the dangers posed by drinking. She said tighter control on drinks advertising have also been suggested by campaigners.