Parents may think that supplying their underage children with alcohol will help teach them how to drink in a safe environment, but research shows it is likely to cause harm.
When a parent willingly supplies their teenager with alcohol, a flow-on effect is created that, aside from fuelling underage drinking, also increases the teens' risk of heavy drinking. It also means that their peers are likely to join in too.
New research by The University of Queensland's Centre for Youth Substance Abuse found teens are likely to share alcohol they receive from their parents with their friends.
The research, led by Dr Gary Chan, also found adolescents living in regions where parental supply of alcohol was high were more likely to engage in heavy drinking, regardless if they obtained alcohol from their own parent.
"Parents need to be aware that by providing alcohol to their children, they are not only encouraging their son or daughter's heavy drinking, but their children's peer group as well," Chan said.
"In communities where parental supply is common, adolescents may also have a heightened perception that alcohol is easily available and underage drinking is socially endorsed."
The health risks outlined by the National Health & Medical Research Council alcohol guidelines include that heavy drinking can increase risky sexual behaviour, adversely affect brain development, elevate the risk of poor mental health and death from unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide.
The study revealed parental supply of alcohol in general was higher in regional and rural areas than in cities.
Chan said the results of the study strengthen the evidence for communities with a high level of adolescent alcohol use that parents need to be educated about the harmful consequences of supplying alcohol to young people.
"Previous studies found parents believed that, by supplying their children with alcohol, they could teach them to drink responsibly and provide a safe place to drink, thereby reducing alcohol-related harm in the long term," Chan said.
"However, a review of 22 studies has found parental supply of alcohol was associated with more adolescent alcohol use, heavy episodic drinking and alcohol-related problems."
The only positive news from the study is the percentage of parents who supplied alcohol to their children has decreased since 2004.
In Queensland, prevalence of parental supply of alcohol was 18 per cent in 2004 and this decreased in 2013 to 8 per cent.Suggest a correction