Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

So You Think It's Quite All Right to Give Your Kids the Odd Bottle of Beer? Well, Think Again; Agenda Parents Were Yesterday Told by the Government That Children under 15 Should Not Drink Alcohol, Even at Home. Health Correspondent Helen Rae Reports on the New Advice for Families

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

So You Think It's Quite All Right to Give Your Kids the Odd Bottle of Beer? Well, Think Again; Agenda Parents Were Yesterday Told by the Government That Children under 15 Should Not Drink Alcohol, Even at Home. Health Correspondent Helen Rae Reports on the New Advice for Families

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae

CHIEF Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson announced yesterday that an alcohol-free childhood was the safest way to safeguard health.

His guidance, which is open to consultation and could be changed, says for those aged 15 to 17, any drinking should be with the supervision of a parent or carer or in a controlled environment.

If this age group do drink, it should be infrequent and certainly on no more than one day a week.

Sir Liam said the brains of children under 15 were still developing and drinking alcohol could do serious damage.

He said: "This guidance aims to support parents and give them confidence to set boundaries.

"More than 10,000 children end up in hospital every year due to drinking and research tells us that 15% of young people think it is normal to get drunk at least once a week.

"They are putting themselves at risk of harm to the liver, depression and damage to the developing brain."

Dr Dave Tomson, alcohol adviser to North Tyneside Primary Care Trust, said it was important parents were given straightforward information.

The North Shields GP said: "It is about giving people the chance to make an informed choice about their youngster's alcohol consumption. It is not my job to tell a 15-year-old to stop drinking or a parent that they are a bad person for letting their child drink.

"It is my job to say there is some evidence that alcohol can damage the developing brain, although we do not know what level of alcohol would be needed to do that.

"It is up to the child and their parent or carer to use the Government's guidance to make their choice.

"The region does have high levels of alcohol-associated problems but we have many schemes in place to help combat this issue."

Yesterday's guidance is the first produced for parents in England about the risks of young people drinking alcohol.

Government figures show that by the time they are 15, most youngsters in the UK have had a drink. About one in five 13-year-olds drink at least every week and that figure doubles among 15-year-olds.

Children who drink are more likely not to use condoms, have sex at a young age, become pregnant and catch sexually transmitted infections. …

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