Thursday, January 29, 2009

Children aged under 15 should never be given alcohol

No alcohol' urged for under-15s
Parents can take control by taking the mystique out of it by giving them a taste and educating their children about alcohol.

Children aged under 15 should never be given alcohol, even in small quantities, England's chief medical officer has advised parents.
Sir Liam Donaldson said childhood should be an "alcohol-free time", as ministers prepare to publish guidance on the issue for the first time.
He told BBC News children who drink were at risk of "serious harm".
It is legal for parents to give a child over five alcohol in the home and the guidance is not expected to become law.
The guidance comes after a recent survey suggested 20% of 13-year-olds drank alcohol at least once a week.
'Serious risks'
It is also expected to say children over 15 should not be given alcohol on more than one day a week - and only under supervision from carers or parents.
Sir Liam told the BBC the practical advice was a direct response from parents who wanted information on the health effects of giving children alcohol.
"There is serious harm that can come to children if they drink and the main advice is that childhood should be an alcohol-free time. Certainly under the age of 15 there are serious risks."
The advice is the first on children and alcohol produced by the government but it is understood there is no intention to back it with legislation. The public will be asked for its views during a three month consultation period.
Ministers and doctors are worried by rising rates of binge-drinking and alcohol-related liver disease in the young and see the guideline as a necessary step in preventing people getting a taste for alcohol at too young an age.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell, said: "We welcome the work led by England's Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, on guidance for parents on children's drinking.
"This is an important debate that affects the UK and we will await the outcome of the English consultation."
'Pocket money prices'
However, some parents, and researchers, have argued that giving a child an occasional drink helps demystify alcohol, and reduces the chance of bingeing later on.
Damion Queva, publisher of Fathers' Quarterly magazine, told the BBC he had given his daughter a small glass of champagne and orange juice on her 13th birthday.
"Teenagers shouldn't be drinking but in the real world it happens and they are going to get it elsewhere," he said.
"Parents can take control by taking the mystique out of it by giving them a taste and educating their children about alcohol and abuse of alcohol."
He added that the drinking culture seemed to be "getting younger and younger" and the pressures on teenagers to drink were "huge".
Ali is 16 but had his first drink at 10. He told the BBC he has been working with the Glaciere Project in Liverpool for 18 months, which helps children give up drinking by teaching them sailing and scuba diving.
He's also stopped drinking: "I was hanging around with a lot of older people and they gave me the drink and I progressed further.
"I was just getting myself into trouble. It just became a part of every day that you would have a drink.
"You would give a lot of grief to the police and they would arrest you.
"I think its a good idea that young people are not introduced to alcohol at a young age."

Alcohol Concern has already welcomed the proposal, with a spokesman telling the Observer newspaper at the weekend: "Parents have for too long received mixed messages about whether they should give their children a little bit of alcohol or not."
However, she added: "There are an awful lot more factors that influence young people's drinking than just what their parents say.
"The easy availability of alcohol at pocket money prices is far more important."
Professor Ian Gilmore, the president of the Royal College of Physicians and chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance, said: "Alcohol is a drug; it's a drug of addiction.
"There's some evidence that youngsters who taste it early are more likely to become alcohol dependent in later life.
"One mustn't lose sight of the fact that alcohol is the biggest cause of death in young men aged 16-24.
"I think one of the key recommendations is that there should be parental supervision between 15 and 17 years of age - we know every year young people die from alcohol poisoning."