Written by Hannah Kotaidis, edited for online by Sam Mortimer.
A new study has found the number of parents buying alcohol for their teenage children has decreased dramatically in recent years.
Experts have said it was a promising sign of change in Australia’s infamous drinking culture.
The study, released by Center for Youth Substance Abuse at The University of Queensland, found a significant drop in the number of parents supplying adolescents with alcohol.
In 2007 more than 20 per cent of parents admitted to supplying drinks to their 14-17-year-olds.
The study shows figures have now dropped to less than 12 per cent.
University of Queensland Associate Professor Adrian Kelly said the study also found changes in the amount of alcohol being consumed by teens.
“There has been a reduction in the amount of alcohol consumed, when alcohol is consumed,” Mr Kelly said.
“So the proportion of kids who are drinking more than five drinks has been dropping steadily over the last 15 years, which is very good news. We’ve also found that the portion of kids who are not drinking at all, has been rising.”
Mr Kelly said parents were the second leading suppliers of alcohol to minors, behind friends.
“We found that there’s been a drop in the rates of supply of alcohol by friends as well. Overall it seems like there has been some favorable drops in alcohol, and they’re pushing supply sources less than perhaps they used to,” he said.
Drink Wise Australia CEO John Scott said it was often easy for parents to give in to social pressures.
“Many parents actually go down that path because they think it’s a better way to socialize their kids to alcohol than by giving them a few sips, or having a Bacardi Breezer or two to take to the 16-year-old’s or 17-year-old’s party,” he said.
“For many parents they’d rather do that, than this fear that their child will turn 18 and suddenly start binge drinking.”
Mr Scott said, however, the bad impressions of Australia’s drinking culture were beginning to improve.
“I think it’s a really good news story that perhaps some of the things that we’ve started to put in place are actually changing our drinking culture to one that’s safer and healthier,” he said.
Deakin University Health Psychology chair Professor John Toumbourou said it was important parents started the conversation early, and warned their children on the dangers of alcohol consumption.
“Children that drink in moderate ways through their school years have a greater likelihood of going on to have problems with alcohol when they’re adults,” Mr Toumbourou said.
“Now the reason for that is, alcohol is habit forming and if you’re using alcohol at an age when your brain is still developing, your developing more of the types of habits that are going to cause you trouble later in life.”
Professor Toumbourou said it was normal for children to rebel, but it wass up to parents to set clear boundaries.
“If you set a rule saying that they’re not to drink too much then the rebellion sometimes takes the form of really quite seriously disturbing drunken behavior,” he said.
“Parents are well advised to set the boundary at a low threshold, and basically say that they’re not going to supply or provide alcohol in the family home.”