Study shows parents unaware of underage drinking decline

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Alcohol Alcohol consumption Alcoholic beverage

Parents were surprised to find young people are drinking less alcohol
Parents were surprised to find young people are drinking less alcohol
More than nine in ten parents are not aware of the downturn in alcohol consumption by 11-15 year olds over the last decade, according to the Portman Group.

Portman Group research reveals parents’ lack of awareness of downturn in alcohol consumption by 11-15 year olds.

The results of the polling, carried out by YouGov earlier this month, follows figures released last week by the Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), showing the proportion of 11-15 year olds having ever tried alcohol has fallen by 34% since 2004, and the number who think it is ‘ok’ to drink alcohol once a week has dropped by 33%.

In the Portman/YouGov poll of more than 1,000 parents, 96% of them were unaware of the sustained decline. When they were then asked what the reasons were likely to be, 57% said pubs and shops had become stricter against underage drinking.

Other reasons cited by parents included the rise of social media and new technologies providing other things for young people to do (25%); increasing diversity in the UK among ethnic groups who are forbidden from drinking alcohol (20%); increased use of alcohol labels and public health messaging, information and education (15%) and young people rebelling against their parents' generation, which had a more liberal approach to drinking alcohol (12%).


According to Government statistics, 75% of 11-15 year olds get alcohol from family or friends. A total of 19% obtain alcohol from strangers and only 5% cite pubs or shops. Parents’ perceptions about where children source alcohol from were broadly in line with this.

Portman Group chief executive Henry Ashworth said: “Our research, held against the sustained downward trend in these government figures, highlights the huge gap between the perception of parents and the reality of a significant cultural shift in underage drinking. We now need to improve our understanding of why this positive culture change is taking place, and what is fuelling the misunderstanding of parents.

“We’re particularly pleased to see shops and pubs are recognised by parents as not being sources of alcohol for young people, showing the success of industry schemes such as Challenge 25 and Challenge 21 in preventing drinks sales to minors.”

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