DrinkWise launches parental influence campaign
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Adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg has endorsed a new DrinkWise campaign that urges parents to be conscious about the role they play in protecting their teenagers from the risks associated with underage drinking.
Research shows that over the past decade there has been a decline in the prevalence of underage drinking in Australia. In fact, most 14-17 year old teenagers abstain from drinking alcohol (72.5%).
However, for those underage teenagers who are drinking, there has been an increase in parents supplying alcohol. Even though peer or friend supply is often thought of as the problem, that has reduced in recent years. Instead, 41.6% of 14–17-year-olds who drink reported their main source of alcohol was supplied by their parents in 2019, up from 25.0% in 2010, 29.9% in 2013 and 33.3% in 2016.
This uptick in parents supplying alcohol to their underage teens is particularly concerning as research shows that following serves of alcohol an adolescent is more likely to report binge drinking, experience alcohol-related harm (e.g., accidents, blackouts and fights) and problematic drinking in their future adolescent years.
DrinkWise’s new ‘It’s okay to say nay’ campaign highlights that the overwhelming majority of parents don’t supply their underage teens with alcohol. It reminds parents of the important role they play in setting boundaries, being role models and ‘influencers’ in their children’s lives and encouraging them to make responsible decisions regarding alcohol.
Dr Carr-Gregg is lending his expert voice to raise awareness amongst parents of teenagers that the majority (87%) of parents aren’t supplying their underage teenagers with alcohol and that it is okay to say nay.
Dr Carr-Gregg said, “one of the things that I am seeing clinically is that there is a misconception out there. A lot of parents think that young people are drinking more. In fact, they are drinking less and parents need to capitalise on this trend and recognise the importance of not giving alcohol to their underage teenagers.
“We know that the teenage brain is a work-in-progress and we know it won’t be fully mature until the mid-twenties. Alcohol has been found to disrupt that process, particularly the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus; important for impulse control and memory.”
“My advice to parents is to help their underage teenagers make the smart choice and just say no to supplying them with alcohol,” Dr Carr-Gregg said.
DrinkWise CEO Simon Strahan acknowledged that while rates of teenage drinking have been going in the right direction over the past decade, there is more to be done to reduce harm.
“We’ve seen more teenagers abstaining from alcohol over the past 15 years and while that is pleasing, it is worrying that of those who do drink, a significant proportion are getting that alcohol from their parents. We know that abstaining from alcohol when underage helps protect teenagers, so we want to reassure parents that setting strong boundaries around alcohol is the right thing to do.
“It is critical that parents know that the overwhelming majority of other parents don’t supply their kids with alcohol– so they can be confident in saying no – and that the overwhelming majority of teenagers don’t drink so they can have that conversation with their kids and help them make the smart choice.“
“Education is critical and DrinkWise is committed to working with parents to help look after the next generation.” Strahan said.
The DrinkWise ‘It’s okay to say nay’ messaging will be promoted on television, radio and on digital and social media.