Half of parents with kids under 14 allow them to drink alcohol at home

New research from Churchill Home Insurance reveals half of parents with children aged under 14 allows them to drink alcohol at home.

This is despite guidance from the Chief Medical Officer that they shouldn’t do so until they’re at least 15 years old and even then rarely and never more than once a week.

More than one in ten (11 per cent) parents with children aged five to seven allows them to drink alcohol in the home, while some even let them drink every day.

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More than half (56 per cent) of parents with children aged 16-17 lets them drink alcohol at home, with around one in ten (9 per cent) letting them do so on a weekly basis. It is not illegal for a child aged five to 16 to drink alcohol at home or on other private premises. However, the Chief Medical Officer’s report into the consumption of alcohol by children highlights those that drink under 14 have increased health risks, including alcohol-related injuries, involvement in violence and suicidal attempts.

Parents with children under 14 are even using alcohol as a bribe to try and ensure good behaviour. Of those who allow their children to consume alcohol in the home, more than a third (34 per cent) does so to help prevent their offspring rebelling. Around a quarter (24 per cent) does so because they see nothing wrong with their children drinking alcohol. Nearly a third (32 per cent) said allowing them to drink in the home allows them to monitor their child’s alcohol consumption. One in ten (10 per cent) parents highlighted that tighter identification checks have made it harder for their children to purchase alcohol themselves, so they make it available at home.

Martin Scott, head of Churchill home insurance said: “The relationship between children and alcohol in Britain always seems more fraught than for our continental cousins. Many parents want their children to have a responsible attitude to drinking and introduce alcohol in a safe, controlled environment. The challenge any parent will recognise is how to prevent excessive drinking, especially amongst teenagers. Whenever people are drinking in the home, there is a greater risk of injury or property damage as alcohol has a significant impact on co-ordination. It is, therefore, important for householders to ensure they have accidental damage cover as part of their home insurance, to meet the cost of replacing items that might get knocked or broken.”

Parents of under 14s are most likely to allow them to drink at a special family occasion (57 per cent). While 42 per cent of parents that let their children drink at home say they would allow them to do so after they have done well at school. A quarter (24 per cent) of parents with children aged under 14 would let their children do so when they have friends round and 19 per cent would do so before a night out.

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One in seven parents (14 per cent) has seen their child have an accident while under the influence of alcohol in their home. One in twenty (six per cent) parents has witnessed their child sustain a serious injury, such as a broken bone or concussion, as a result of their child consuming alcohol, while eight per cent has seen their offspring suffer a minor injury such as a cut or bruise.

Churchill’s research highlights that parents are also willing to let other people’s children drink in their home. One in five (20 per cent) parents allows minors who aren’t family members to drink alcohol in their home. Parents have also seen the children of other people injured in their home due to alcohol consumption - nine per cent of these adults have seen a child suffer an injury on their property, ranging from cuts and bruises to broken bones.