Education & Family

Third of children 'scared' by adult drinking

Nearly a third of UK children feel scared when they see adults drunk or drinking too much, a survey suggests.

Half of the 1,234 10 to 14-year-olds surveyed by Childwise for BBC Newsround said they had seen their parents drunk.

Nearly half were not bothered by adults drinking, but 16% said alcohol made adults angry and aggressive; 30% said they were scared when adults drank.

Childwise warned that action would be needed to prevent binge drinking worsening among the next generation.

'Good night out'

Childwise research director Rosemary Duff said the 30% who felt scared when adults drank was a "sizeable minority".

But she said it was also a concern that nearly half of children were "not bothered" by drunkenness, which, she said, suggested drinking culture had become "ingrained".

Girls aged over 11 were asked why adults drank until they lost control and vomited.

Ms Duff said several responded that it was "part of a good night out".

"It's going to make it very very difficult to tackle the culture of binge-drinking, it's so embedded in their idea of what's a good night out," she said.

The survey was part of a Newsround special report into the impact of adult drinking on children.

It found that 3% of the children said they saw their parents drunk several times a week, which Ms Duff said was "quite high", pointing out that it would equate to one child in every class of about 30.

'Dangerous consequences'

Eight out of 10 children who had seen adults drinking said they noticed a change in the way they behaved.

Of those, almost a quarter said alcohol made adults "act stupid or silly", a fifth said they became "angry and aggressive" but another fifth said they became "happy and funny".

Image caption About half of 10 to 14-year-olds said they had seen their parents drunk

Some 19% found adults to act "strange or different" after drinking; 18% said they "became loud and swore" and 17% said they "became dizzy or fell over".

But 60% of children interviewed said they would drink alcohol when they were older, although 17% of those some said they would only drink in moderation.

About a fifth said they would not drink when they were older.

The survey comes six months after former Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls warned parents in England not to under-estimate the "dangerous consequences" of under-age drinking.

Ms Duff said children needed to be educated about alcohol from an early age if binge-drinking was to be tackled effectively.

"Unless we do something, things aren't going to get any better. Quite possibly, they could get worse," she said.

"Each generation takes the cues from their parents, and if their parents are drinking more it makes it easier for them to drink more."

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