Chances are that almost everyone can remember their parents allowing them to try a little taste of an alcoholic beverage even at a very young age. Whilst most of us believe that this is perfectly harmless and perhaps even helps to prevent problem drinking because it makes alcohol less taboo, new research has found that this is not the case at all.
A study which was carried out in the US has found that children who have sipped alcohol by the age of 11 are five times more likely to have had a full drink by the time they’re 14. Furthermore, they’re also four times more likely to binge drink or get drunk compared to those who had never sampled alcohol before.
Only 6% of the children who had never tried alcohol before said they had drunk a full drink by the age of 14 but amongst those who had been allowed to try it with their parents, this rose to an incredible 26%. 9% also said they had binged on alcohol (five or more drinks at one time) or been drunk compared to less than 2% amongst those who had never tried it.
Even when factoring out issues that could encourage problem drinking down the road, such as how much their parents drink, a history of alcoholism in the family or having a risk-taking personality, the children who sipped alcohol were still more likely to start drinking at a younger age.
Research Associate Professor at Brown University’s Centre for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Kristina Jackson commented:
“I would say that it’s advisable not to offer your child a sip of your beverage as it may send the wrong message. Younger teens may be unable to understand the difference between having a sip and drinking one or more drinks.”
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