NEARLY one in five Calder-dale parents think it’s OK to let their kids drink alcohol.
A survey found 18 per cent of mums and dads allowed children to drink between the ages of 11 and 14.
And 66 per cent admitted letting teens of 15-17 take alcohol.
Dr Graham Wardman, director of public health, said: “We are seeing a significant increase in the number of people in hospital with alcohol-related conditions.
“This could be linked to more people starting drinking from a younger age, often in their early teens, and drinking large amounts of the more potent drinks such as spirits and certain ciders.”
Kate Hetherington, team leader at young people’s advice service Lifeline’s Branching Out in Calderdale, stressed the importance of parents educating children about alcohol.
“It would be interesting to know how much of these figures are when a child is allowed one drink at a wedding or party. I think there’s quite a bit of that goes on. We would encourage parents to educate the children alongside this though.
“In Calderdale the number of drunken teenagers admitted to hospital is nearly double the national average and a third of adults drink at least twice the daily recommended amount of alcohol in one session, which is 40 per cent higher than the national average. Is this a coincidence or connected?
“As parents and adults we need to be really aware of how we talk and discuss alcohol in front of our youngsters.
“It’s easy to say we ‘could murder a glass of wine’ after a hard day’s work and we might be thinking about units and effects etc, but we’re not saying that out loud, so all our young people hear is that we’re using alcohol to relieve stress. It’s easily done.”
Inspector Derek Benn, of Calderdale’s Community Safety Partnership, said: “Police have the power to confiscate alcohol from those who are aged under 18.
“Underage drinking can lead to anti-social behaviour such as criminal damage and vandalism and we would urge parents to work with us to tackle this issue by not giving their children alcohol.”
A spokesperson for Alcohol Concern, which holds its Alcohol Awareness Week this week, said: “Early commencement of drinking increases the risk of a drink problem because young people often have issues such as peer pressure and a desire to fit in which do not apply so much to older drinkers.
“Although allowing a young person to taste a drink w in the home is not harmful in itself, parents should beware of sending the wrong signals, and ensure that they take the opportunity to discuss the potential problems and the results of alcohol misuse.”
The figures were included in the Tackling the harms of Alcohol Strategy 2010-2013 by NHS Calderdale, Calderdale Council, West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Probation.
Young people, or the parents of young people, worried about their drinking can contact Branching Out on 01422 510000 confidentially.
It is against the law:
To sell alcohol to someone under 18 anywhere.
For an adult to buy or attempt to buy alcohol on behalf of someone under 18.
For someone under 18 to buy alcohol, attempt to buy alcohol or to be sold alcohol.
For someone under 18 to drink alcohol in licensed premises, except where the child is 16 or 17 years old and accompanied by an adult. In this case it is legal for them to drink, but not buy, beer, wine and cider with a table meal.
For an adult to buy alcohol for someone under 18 for consumption on licensed premises, except as above.
For children under five to drink alcohol at home or on private premises unless following a doctor’s advice for health reasons.
It is not illegal
For someone over 18 to buy a child over 16 beer, wine or cider if they are eating a table meal together in licensed premises.
For a child aged 5 to 16 to drink alcohol at home or on other private premises.