Underage drinking in Australia has hit historic lows and those that are drinking are doing so with their parent’s permission, a new survey has revealed.
The study, conducted by the Australian Cancer Council, shed light on the drinking habits of high schoolers and found that underage drinking is continuing to fall out of fashion.
It surveyed more than 11,000 students from 83 schools and found that, of those aged 12 to 17, just 64.8% said they had ever tried alcohol.
For the survey, any amount of alcohol was considered “trying” a drink, and even a sip would count.
This was a slight decrease on the previous survey conducted in 2017, but a significant drop of 24% since the survey began in its current form in 1996.
However, the results showed that when students do drink, a growing number are doing so with the permission of their parents, and nearly half of teenagers say they were given their most recent drink by a parent.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s Knowledge Manager, Robert Taylor said the rates of parents allowing their children to drink alcohol was concerning, given that young people are at greater risk of alcohol-related harm.
“Parents are always learning and growing, especially when it comes to new information about keeping their kids healthy and safe,” he said.
“Research now shows us that exposing teenagers to alcohol, even in small amounts, can be harmful to cells inside the developing brain. The effects can be anything from finding schoolwork harder to trouble processing emotions or performing at their chosen sport.”
He said that parents may be choosing to provide alcohol as they believe it to be safer, but said it was better to simply avoid providing alcohol altogether.
“Delaying drinking alcohol for as long as possible can help to reduce the risk of harms now and into their adult life,” he said.
“We also know that the earlier a young person starts drinking, and the more frequently they drink, the more likely they are to experience alcohol-related harms such as accidents or injuries or develop an alcohol dependence later in life.”
Nationwide, Australians are known to be heavy drinkers, with data recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that more than one in four adults were exceeding healthy drinking guidelines.
It found that those aged 18 – 24 were the most likely to exceed the guidelines, with as many as one third saying they had consumed five or more standard drinks on any day in the past year, and did so at least once a month.