Alcoholism & Addiction

Australian Parents Believe Underage Drinking OK With Supervision

Parents can have a significant influence on their children, especially when alcohol is involved. More than half of adults in Australia and 63 percent of those with a higher income level, believe that 15- to 17-year-olds should be allowed to consume alcohol as long as they are under parental supervision at home.

The latest MBF Healthwatch survey, summarized in a Science Daily release, surprised Bupa Australia Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Christine Bennett. The long-term implications caused by alcohol on young adult brains that are not fully developed also created concern.

"Our survey suggests many Australians believe it’s acceptable to buy alcohol for teenagers and allow them to drink under parental supervision at home," Dr Bennett said in Science Daily.

"Some parents may think this is harmless; some may see this approach as a way to teach their teenage children about socially responsible drinking. But we want parents to understand that early exposure may actually be doing them damage. Evidence suggests that the earlier the age that alcohol is introduced, the greater the risk of long-term alcohol related health problems.”

Other survey results show the overwhelming acceptance among Australians in the supervised underage drinking, as well as the link between this acceptance and income. In fact, 63 percent of those earning more than $100,000 supported supervised drinking; 53 percent of people earning between $70,001 and $100,000 support it; and 48 percent of those earning between $40,001 and $70,000 also support the activity.

Dr, Bennett noted that there is a gap between the best medical evidence and parental actions. She also believes this study challenges the belief that parents are well placed to assist their children to avoid alcohol during the critical years of brain development. Early exposure to alcohol can disturb a wide range of key brain functions, which can cause permanent disruption to some of the brain’s most important integrative functions.

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