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Open Access Research article

A telephone survey of parental attitudes and behaviours regarding teenage drinking

Bobby P Smyth*, Catherine D Darker, Erica Donnelly-Swift, Joe M Barry and Shane PA Allwright

Author Affiliations

Department of Public Health & Primary Care, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:297  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-297

Published: 1 June 2010

Abstract

Background

Irish teenagers demonstrate high rates of drunkenness and there has been a progressive fall in age of first drinking in recent decades. International research indicates that parents exert substantial influence over their teenager's drinking. We sought to determine the attitudes and behaviours of Irish parents towards drinking by their adolescent children.

Methods

We conducted a telephone survey of a representative sample of of 234 parents who had a teenager aged between 13 and 17 years.

Results

Six per cent reported that they would be unconcerned if their son or daughter was to binge drink once per month. On the issue of introducing children to alcohol in the home, 27% viewed this as a good idea while 63% disagreed with this practice. Eleven per cent of parents reported that they had given a drink to their teenager at home. Parents who drank regularly themselves, who were from higher socio-demographic groups and who lived in the east of Ireland demonstrated more permissive attitudes to teenage drinking.

Conclusions

We found no evidence of widespread permissive attitudes and behaviours among Irish parents. Given that parental influences have been demonstrated to exert substantial impact on teenage drinking, it may be possible to harness the concerns of Irish parents more effectively to reverse the trends of escalating alcohol related harm in Ireland.