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One in 10 teens get first drink from parents

MORE than one quarter of Irish parents think it's "a good idea" to introduce alcohol to their children in the home.

But while 27pc favoured the idea, just 11pc of parents reported they had actually given a drink to their teenager at home.

Parents who had given alcohol to their children "typically did so when they reached the age of 16 or 17 years," Trinity College Dublin researchers found.

However almost two thirds -- 63pc -- of Irish parents disagreed with the issue of introducing children to alcohol in the home, while the remaining 10pc was unsure.


"Compared to their European counterparts, Irish teenagers demonstrate high rates of drunkenness and there has been a progressive fall in age of first drinking in recent decades," the researchers said.

The researchers sought to determine the attitudes and behaviours of Irish parents towards drinking by their adolescent children -- and if there was widespread provision of alcohol to teens by parents.

Some 90pc of parents indicated that they would be concerned if their teenager was to drink the equivalent of four pints of beer even once per month.

Parents who were from higher socio-demographic groups and who lived in the east of Ireland "demonstrated more permissive attitudes to teenage drinking," they said.

Researcher Dr Bobby Smyth and clinical lecturer with he Department of Public Health and Primary Care, School of Medicine, TCD, said: "The majority of parents across Ireland think that it is not a good idea to introduce children to alcohol.

"I believe they are right to be wary of this approach as it gives a very mixed message to teenagers."


He said the wider social influence in Ireland remained "very tolerant" of drunkenness.

Professor of Population Health Medicine Joe Barry said the survey findings "highlight challenges in terms of public policy formation, as those who exert most influence -- including health professionals, politicians and journalists -- belong to the permissive class on this issue."

The survey looked at attitudes of 234 Irish parents of 13- to 17-year-olds.

The SLAN survey in 2007 found that adults aged from 18 to 23 years from wealthier socio-economic groups reported more frequent health problems linked to their alcohol use.