Parents are introducing their children to booze too early, experts say.
According to a new study by Researchers at the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at the UCL Institute of Education, and Pennsylvania State University, it was found that, one in six parents allow their children to drink booze by the age of 14.
The study also found that light or moderate-drinking parents were just as likely to let their children drink alcohol as heavy-drinking parents.
It suggests that many parents are misguided by letting their children consume alcohol at a younger age in an attempt to teach them to drink responsibly.
The analysis was compiled from data on 10,000 children born at the turn of the century from the Millennium Cohort Study.
It found that 17% of parents in the UK have allowed their children to drink by the time they were 14.
In the survey, 14-year-olds themselves were asked whether they had ever tried more than a few sips of alcohol, with almost half saying yes.
When they were 11, about 14% had done so.
The study’s lead author, Jennifer Maggs, said: “Parents of socially advantaged children may believe that allowing children to drink will teach them responsible use or may in fact inoculate them against dangerous drinking.
However, there is little research to support these ideas.
“While social disadvantage predicts many long-term health problems, parents of socially advantaged children appear to view alcohol use as less risky.”
The NHS says: “Drinking alcohol can damage a child’s health, even if they’re 15 or older.
“Beginning to drink before age 14 is associated with increased health risks, including alcohol-related injuries, involvement in violence, and suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Previous studies have also shown that starting drinking at a young age means children are more likely to fail at school, have behaviour issues and alcohol and substance problems when they become adults.