A report published today, Friday 17 June 2011, by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, examines the drinking behaviours of young people in England and the main influences on their alcohol consumption.

The study, which looked at the drinking patterns of students in years 9 (aged 13-14) and 11 (ages 15-16), found that young people are more likely to drink, to drink frequently and to drink to excess if they:

  • Receive less supervision from a parent or other close adult
  • Spend more than two evenings a week with friends or have friends who drink
  • Are exposed to a close family member, especially a parent, drinking or getting drunk
  • Have positive attitudes towards and expectations of alcohol; and
  • Have very easy access to alcohol

Katherine Brown, Head of Research and Communications at IAS said:

“Some parents may believe that teen culture or peer pressure are the main driving forces behind their child’s attitude to alcohol, and there is little they can do to prevent them drinking to excess during the teenage years. However, this report can be seen as a positive message for parents, as it shows they do have the power to influence their children and help protect them from the dangers associated with drinking.

“There are also steps that need to be taken by the Government to help protect children and young people from alcohol harm. Parents need to be made aware of the Chief Medical Officer’s advice that no children under the age of 15 should be given alcohol, as, in doing so, this can damage a child’s cognitive development and increase their risk of developing alcohol dependency problems in later life.

“Furthermore, the ease with which children and young people can access alcohol needs to be addressed. The increased availability of cheap booze in supermarkets encourages people to buy alcohol in large quantities and ‘stock up’ at home, making it easier for children to get hold of alcohol. The Government needs to look seriously at raising the price of alcohol in order to tackle the problem of young and harmful drinkers.”

To download a copy of the full report, go to: