Conference asks: Are we teaching our children to drink?

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office.
Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office.

What’s the right thing to do as a parent when it comes to alcohol?

That is one of the issues being examined at a major conference in the North East exploring the impact of alcohol in childhood.

More children in the region and nationally are choosing not to drink alcohol and although that is good news, Balance estimates that in the North East, around 16,500 11 to 15-year-olds drink on a regular basis and 9,300 have been drunk in the previous month.

A survey of adults in the region found that many believe providing children with alcohol can help them handle drinking when they’re older.

However, a separate survey with children suggests a stark difference between the myths and the reality: Children aged 11 to 15 are four times more likely to be an at-risk drinker if their parents allowed them to drink alcohol.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “Every parent wants the best for their child and it can be very difficult to know what the right thing to do is. None of us wants our children to become heavier drinkers. There is clear guidance out there, but it is not easy to find or widely promoted.”

The event will raise awareness of the impact of alcohol on families and children, and explore how the region can work together to protect children from the impact of alcohol.