The Australian Alcohol Guidelines state that children and young people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol to reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health.
The human brain continues to develop until people reach their mid-twenties. This places children and young people at increased risk of harm from drinking alcohol, both in the short and long term.
Drinking by young people is more likely to result in dangerous behaviour, accident and injury. It has also been shown that early alcohol use is more likely to lead to problems with alcohol later in life.
However, it’s worth nothing that there is a downward trend in alcohol use among young people, with more than twice the number of 14–17-year-old Australians abstaining from alcohol in 2019 (73 per cent) compared to 2001 (32 percent).
What can we do to safeguard children?
There are many ways in which we can safeguard children and young people when it comes to alcohol, including controlling access to alcohol, providing education on alcohol and the harms it causes, as well as access to resources in the home and school environment.
It is important that families have the best information and resources to facilitate honest conversations around alcohol. Despite the many influences on children, parents remain the single strongest influence on their children’s choices.
This is why it is important that parents do not provide alcohol to children and young people.
Supporting Family Conversations provides resources for parents and schools to facilitate conversations around alcohol. Parents and schools can also access the Positive Choices portal for more information on drugs and alcohol. Students can access further health and wellbeing education and resources through Climate Schools Australia.
Through the ACT Health P.A.R.T.Y program, children attend Canberra Hospital to learn about trauma and how to recognise potential situations for injury, make prevention-oriented choices and adopt behaviours that minimise unnecessary risk.
Children see advertising in all aspects of their lives, in direct and subtle ways. This includes alcohol and junk food advertising, which can have negative consequences on the child's health and wellbeing later in life.
One such example is alcohol advertising in sports, which can negatively impact junior players. You can help to reduce unhealthy food and beverage sponsorship in junior sport through the Healthier Choices Canberra Junior Sport Sponsorship Program.
Learn more below:
You can also get confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs by contacting the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.