A growing number of parents are supplying their underage children with alcohol, prompting a national campaign that seeks to curb the dangerous behaviour and let parents know 'it's okay to say nay'.
In 2019, 41.6 per cent of 14-17 year olds who drink reported their main source of alcohol was supplied by their parents. That was up from 25 per cent in 2010.
DrinkWise's new campaign is designed to remind parents of the important role they play in setting boundaries, being role models and 'influencers' in their children's lives and encouraging them to make responsible decisions with alcohol.
Underage drinking has actually decreased in recent years, with the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey reporting that 72.5 per cent of underage teenagers abstained from alcohol in the previous 12 months.
Adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg confirmed that young attitudes towards alcohol were changing.
"A lot of parents think that young people are drinking more," he said.
"In fact, they are drinking less and parents need to capitalise on this trend and recognise the importance of not giving alcohol to their underage teenagers."
Research demonstrates that when young adolescents drink, they are more likely to experience alcohol-related harm like blackouts and fights and problematic drinking in their future years.
Melbourne-based mother of three Catherine decided not to provide alcohol to her teenage children because of her knowledge of the negative impact of alcohol on a developing brain.
"For us, the choice was easy," she said.
"Parenting is tough, you want to do the right thing by your kids, so we're reassured we're not the only ones making this decision."
"It was important to have the conversation early, you want them to be equipped with the confidence and the knowledge to know that it's okay to say no, and they are making the right choice for them," Catherine said.
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Catherine's 18-year-old son Harrison confirmed those early boundaries had helped him.
"I had that first conversation with my parents about alcohol pretty early in my teens," he said.
"I'm really glad we had that conversation, we set those boundaries, because they've benefitted me as the person I've become. Looking back, it was the right decision for me as a person."
Harrison has a passion for aviation and wants to join the Air Force. He abstained from drinking until he was of legal age in order to focus on his studies and stay healthy.
"The ability to be in a group and say no is becoming easier and easier," he said.
Dr Carr-Gregg's advice for parents is to make the smart choice and just say no to supplying underage children with alcohol.
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