Would you give alcohol to another person’s child? Nearly a third of people say it’s OK, if the kids are in a safe environment.
A study from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has found people tend to think supplying alcohol to teenagers is much less morally concerning than other illegal alcohol related behaviours such as drink driving.
“There is this idea that not drinking, or not giving people alcohol, is just not normal”
Alcohol researchers say the research highlights the need for more to be done to ensure people understand the risks of teenage drinking, and that existing laws are enforced.
Would you give alcohol to another person’s child?
The FARE study asked more than 400 parents and non-parents questions about a hypothetical scenario (see below) in which a father allowed his 16-year-old son and his friends to have two beers each at an 18th birthday party at which they were present. In NSW it is legal to give alcohol to your child, but not someone else’s.
Nearly a third of respondents said because it was a “safe environment” it was ok to provide the alcohol, while one in 10 said it was ok because “everybody does it”.
They were also asked similar questions about the same family, in which the parents drove too fast or while they suspected they might be over the blood alcohol limit.
Study leader Sandra Jones, from the Australian Catholic University, said the community has strong moral reactions to ideas like driving when you suspected you might be over the limit or speeding, yet supplying alcohol to children did not seem to produce the same strong feelings.
“It wasn’t even on the radar for a lot of people,” she said. “We read them the scenario and the majority of them didn’t even mention the provision of alcohol – they mentioned things like whether there were gate crashers, or the fact the parents had to clean up after the party.
“There is this idea that not drinking, or not giving people alcohol, is just not normal.”
More than twice as many people in the survey agreed or were neutral about the statement that was ok for the father to give his son’s friends alcohol “because everybody does it”, than who agreed or were neutral about drink driving “because everybody does it”.
While more than half the respondents agreed or were neutral about the idea that supplying alcohol was ok because they were in a safe environment, only 22 per cent agreed or were neutral about possible drink driving being ok because it was on a quiet road the man knew well.
The study also found that people generally think you are unlikely to be caught or charged for supplying alcohol to a child, and that this makes it a more common occurrence. But despite this only a quarter of people believed that the father should be fined or go to jail.
FARE chief executive Michael Thorn said more needed to be done to ensure people understood the laws and they were enforced.
“Governments must do more to raise awareness of secondary supply laws and associated penalties, to ensure these laws are being enforced, and that more parents, community members and other adults understand the health risks associated with drinking alcohol under the age of 18 when a young person’s brain is still developing,” he said.