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Youth drinking the focus of Alcohol Awareness Month

How much alcohol do local children consume? Figures set to be released by the Department for National Drug Control on Thursday should give us a good idea.

The news is being eagerly awaited by the Council on Alcohol Abuse (CADA) who is observing alcohol awareness this month.

As part of its focus for April the charity is highlighting the importance of children abstaining from alcohol.

A spokesperson said: “One of our objectives this month is to increase public awareness of the importance of keeping alcohol out of the hands of children and teens.”

The last statistics come from a 2007 survey of 3,000 students aged 13 to 18 which revealed that more than half had tried alcohol.

The survey found 38 percent of 13-year-olds had tried alcohol, 58 percent of 14-year-olds and 70 percent of 15-year-olds.

According to the survey, children typically first tried alcohol at age 12 and became regular drinkers at 14.

A CADA spokesperson said the organisation would be focusing on these areas in the upcoming survey.

In particular CADA is hoping that the age where children first try alcohol and the average age where they start drinking regularly, will have increased.

CADA says that research shows the younger the person is when they begin drinking alcohol, the greater the likelihood that they will grow up and be dependent on it.

Questioned if it makes a difference if children grow up drinking wine at the table with their family, as opposed to sneaking a drink on their own or with friends, CADA says “no”.

“Early introduction to alcohol consumption in what you may describe as a responsible manner, does not negate the fact that if you are young and consume alcohol you are more likely to become alcohol-dependent. How it is introduced to the young person does not make a difference.”

CADA stresses the importance of parents talking with their children about drinking. Such conversations can start from the time the child is able to understand what a drink is, the organisation believes.

One of its educational flyers states:

“It’s never too early to talk to your children about alcohol, and to encourage them to talk with you. Before age nine, children typically view drinking negatively, but between the ages nine and 13, they start to view alcohol more positively, so it is very important to begin talking with your children when they are around seven years old.”

A cheat sheet of sorts, with questions parents can raise with their children, has been created by the charity and is available free of charge.

It is recommend parents keep this on the fridge so it is handy to bring to the table when the family sits down to dinner.

Here are some of the questions parents are advised to ask:

1) Is beer alcohol? Answer: Yes.

2) Are Breezers, WKDs and Twisted Tea alcohol? Answer: Yes.

3) Is the alcohol in beer, Breezers, WKDs and Twisted Tea different to the alcohol in rum and whisky? Answer: No, all the alcohol is the same.

4) Is it true that if a young person drinks alcohol their brain won’t grow and develop properly?

Answer: Yes this is true. Alcohol is very dangerous for a young person’s brain. It hurts adults’ brains too that’s why many adults choose not to drink.

5) What age does the law say you have to be to drink alcohol? Answer: 18

Useful website: www.cada.bm.

Photo by Glenn Tucker In 2004, 17-year-old Royal Gazette student reporter Sharla Bean was able to buy alcohol from five Hamilton stores.

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Published April 17, 2012 at 9:30 am (Updated April 17, 2012 at 9:30 am)

Youth drinking the focus of Alcohol Awareness Month

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