Parents are biggest providers of alcohol to their kids reveals Drinkaware

18 April 2012

New Mumtank panel of experts launched to provide parents with advice and information on kids and alcohol

Children as young as 10 say their parents are who they would turn to first for advice about alcohol, and the most common source of alcohol itself, according to new research published today by alcohol education charity Drinkaware. Unique research, which polled parents (who were social grades ABC1) of 10-17 year olds and their children, highlights that 72% of the 10-17 year olds questioned say their parents are the first people they would approach with questions about alcohol, while half (50%) of those who have had a drink report it was their parents who supplied them with the alcohol the last time they drank*.


The publication of these findings coincides with the launch of Drinkaware’s new ‘Mumtank’ - a team of mums with expertise ranging from health and child psychology, to education and parenting. The Mumtank will provide parents with practical advice on how to tackle the thorny issues around kids and alcohol. Members include Mumsnet co-founder Carrie Longton, TV’s Dr Sarah Jarvis and Superintendent Julie Whitmarsh from Devon & Cornwall Police.


Today’s research also shows that while 83% of parents agree it is important to talk to their kids about alcohol, a third (32%) admit that there are many things they do not know about the effects of alcohol on children. Many parents allow their children to drink from an early age - with data showing that in those families where the child had drunk alcohol, the average age at which parents first allowed their child to have a drink was 13.8 years old. Of the 10-17 year olds polled who had drunk an alcoholic drink, the majority (55%) had been with their parents the last time they drank alcohol.


Additional findings from the research include:


  • 43% of parents worry that their child’s friends have a greater influence on their child’s drinking behaviour than they do.
  • Over two thirds (67%) of 10-17 year olds say they have never felt encouraged to drink alcohol.


Based on the outcomes of this new research, and drawing on their collective expertise and experience, this summer the Mumtank will produce a practical and thought-provoking set of resources for parents, which will seek to involve them in the debate and offer advice and guidance on children and alcohol.


This resource will form the centrepiece of Drinkaware’s parenting campaign this year, which offers advice and tips to parents on how and when to talk to their children about alcohol, in an age appropriate way, between the ages of 8 -17. Further advice can be found at


Chris Sorek, Chief Executive of Drinkaware, says:

“These findings will help to reassure parents that their children are more likely to go to them for advice about alcohol than their peers. So it’s really important that they have the right advice, information and support to talk to their kids. Evidence shows that the earlier children start drinking, the more likely they are to drink more and more frequently as they grow up.


“Parents are key to tackling the UK’s drinking culture in the long term, and we want to help them ensure their kids don’t grow up to be the next generation of binge drinkers. Drinkaware’s Mumtank aims to bring the debate about children and alcohol to life and spark lively discussion by increasing awareness of the issues, providing expert advice and questioning pre-conceived ideas about children and alcohol.”


Carrie Longton, Co-Founder of Mumsnet, says:

“Talking to children about alcohol can be a complex and tricky issue, and we know from Mumsnetters that there is concern about when and how to best tackle the subject. Mumtank is all about raising awareness amongst parents of the importance of opening up a dialogue about alcohol with their children earlier rather than later as well as arming parents with useful factual information, tips and advice.”


Superintendent Julie Whitmarsh, Devon & Cornwall Police, joint Chair of Newquay Safe and Member of the ACPO Group on reducing alcohol related harm says:

“As a police officer on the frontline, I regularly witness firsthand the negative effects of underage drinking. Preventing the sale of alcohol to anyone under 18 is part of any police officer’s role, but a more pressing problem that’s harder to police is that of “parent dealers” – parents supplying their children with drinks.  I believe that we need to do more to help parents understand the importance of the role they have to play in educating their children about alcohol. The Mumtank is the ideal forum for this and I’m very pleased to be involved.”


Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP, says:

“As parents, we have a responsibility to ensure our children get the right alcohol education so they can make informed decisions about alcohol.  To do this, we need to have access to all the facts, and understand both the short term dangers, and long term health harms of underage drinking.  While parents may be tempted to encourage children to try alcohol earlier rather than later, as a form of alcohol education, medical evidence shows that an alcohol free childhood is best. As a GP and the parent of two teenagers, the issue of alcohol misuse among young people is a cause close to my heart. That’s why I’m delighted to be a part of the Mumtank panel and am confident it will produce some fascinating insights into this subject and spark great debate.”