What about giving children a little alcohol to teach them about acceptable drinking?
Children under 15 should not drink any alcohol, the government’s chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson said today (29th Jan 2009). “Childhood should be an alcohol-free time,” he told the BBCs today programme.
There is emerging evidence to show that damage to children’s developing brain structure and function takes place with exposure to alcohol, he said. But what about giving children a little alcohol to teach them about acceptable drinking?
“That is something that a significant number of people, particularly middle-class people, believe,” said Donaldson. “It is very anecdotal and there is little evidence for it. The evidence does show that getting children to drink regularly precipitates a drinking pattern.”
Donaldson’s warning contrasts with official government advice on the DirectGov website, which suggests “there is no ‘right’ age” to let children start drinking. It advises parents to encourage children to stick to low-strength brands and not to drink too quickly. It cautions against over-reacting if children drink against parents’ wishes and suggests providing starchy food “so they won’t be drinking on an empty stomach”.
What are your memories of your first boozy drinks and how have you introduced your children/students to alcohol?