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Parents urged not to supply their children with alcohol

Published:  23 July, 2008

Parents who supply their children with alcohol are behind soaring rates of binge drinking among Britain's teenagers, the government has warned.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls said it was wrong for family members to buy under-age children "four-packs" and send them out to get drunk with their friends.

He published a study warning that teenagers in the UK consume "extremely high" quantities of alcohol compared to children in other countries.

The minister's remarks followed a major survey by Ofsted last week, which found that although the number of young people who drink alcohol has fallen but one in five 10-15-year-olds who do get drink, get very drunk.

Speaking as he launched a Government report on childhood, Balls said: "If parents give 15-16-year-olds a four-pack to go off and have a drink, I think that's the wrong thing to do. I'm not sure we have said that enough as a society.

"Part of our problem with excessive drinking by teenagers is that a lot of the alcohol is bought by parents, family members and older friends.

"I don't think the right thing to do is to say no teenager should ever have a drink. It's part of a sensible approach to alcohol for teenagers from time to time to have a drink at home. But I do think it is wrong for teenagers to be helped to drink heavily and outside the home."

Police warn that many under-age children get their alcohol from parents and older siblings, he said.

The Government's report, Children and Young People Today, will form the basis of a new Children's Plan for the next 10 years to be published next month.