Behind the Headlines

Monday February 2 2009

The healthiest and best option for children is not to drink alcohol

Parents have been advised that children under 15 should never be given alcohol, BBC News reported. It said that Sir Liam Donaldson, England’s chief medical officer (CMO) has warned that children who drink are at risk of serious harm and that childhood should be an ‘alcohol free time’.

What is the advice?

  • The healthiest and best option for children is not to drink alcohol. That means everybody under the age of 18 should not drink.
  • If somebody underage does drink alcohol, the very youngest that they should do so is 15. Parents and young people should be aware that drinking, even at age 15 or older, can be hazardous to health and not drinking is the healthiest option.
  • If children aged 15 – 17 consume alcohol they should do so infrequently and certainly on no more than one day a week.
  • For those aged 15 – 17, all alcohol consumption should be with the guidance of a parent or carer or in a supervised environment.

Is the law changing?

No, this advice has been released as part of new guidance on underage drinking. It has been put together in response to calls from parents for clearer messages on the effects and risks of drinking alcohol for young people.

It is still illegal for any child under the age of five to be given alcohol

Who is it aimed at?

The guidance is aimed at young people, so they can make sensible informed decisions about drinking, and parents who want to protect their children from harms associated with alcohol misuse. Health, education and children’s services professionals are also intended targets.

 

Can I have my say?

The CMOs advice is part of a wider consultation on alcohol and young people. The consultation will run for twelve weeks, and will seek the views of young people, carers, parents and other interested parties. If you would like to have your say, you can respond online at http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/consultations/.

 

Edited by NHS Choices

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