Nearly Half Of All 10-14 Year Olds Have Seen Their Parents Drunk

The ICM survey of 1,000 parents and their children aged 10-14 found that four in ten (42%) parents say their child has seen them or their partner drunk. Three in ten children (29%) say they have seen their parents drunk on more than one occasion.


While it is promising that 72% of parents say they feel very confident talking to their child about drinking and the majority (75%) believe they are best placed to do so, parents could be giving mixed messages to children about responsible drinking by appearing drunk in front of them. Drinkaware is encouraging parents to consider the impact their drinking has on their children, as evidence shows what children see and what they are told are both influential in shaping their understanding of ‘normal’ or acceptable drinking behaviour.


The charity is launching a national campaign to raise awareness of the issues around children and alcohol, and encouraging parents to talk to their children and to be aware of their influence as role models in the family. Part of this campaign includes working with Mumsnet to promote discussion between parents about having ‘the alcohol chat’ with children.


Elaine Hindal, Chief Executive, Drinkaware says: “While setting rules about alcohol and speaking to children about the risks is a positive step, equally important is that parents understand their significant influence as role models and feel confident to set a good example.


“Children are aware of alcohol from a young age. Estimates suggest that around one in three children under 16 in the UK live with an adult binge drinker, and studies show that the odds of a teenager getting drunk double if they have seen their parents drunk – even if only on a few occasions. Understanding the impact of what parents say as well as what they do is important, as both can shape children’s attitudes towards alcohol.”


Drinkaware has tips and tools to help parents give age-appropriate advice to their children throughout the crucial years in their development, and advice to help parents monitor their own drinking,


It is estimated that 3.4 million children live with an adult binge drinker, 740,000 live with a heavy or hazardous drinker (UK, under 16 years – Manning et al (2009) New estimates of the number of children living with substance misusing parents: results from UK national household surveys) Children who think they have seen their parents drunk are significantly more likely to have been drunk on multiple occasions than those who have not seen their parents drunk. (Bivariate analysis on predictors of likelihood of having been drunk. Base: children in Year 9 and Year 11 – Bremner et al (2011) Young people, alcohol and influences: A study of young people and their relationship with alcohol) The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option. The CMO report for England says: “Parental use of alcohol increases the likelihood that children will also consume alcohol”, evidencing the need for parents to be aware of their position as role models. Click to see the advice for:


The research presented in this press release was conducted for Drinkaware by ICM. ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,000 GB adults aged 18+ and their children aged 10 to 14 via online in August 2013. Surveys were conducted across the country. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at

Drinkaware provides consumers with information to make informed decisions about the effects of alcohol on their lives and lifestyles. Our public education programmes, expert information, and resources help create awareness and effect positive change. An independent charity established in 2007, 

Drinkaware works alongside the medical profession, the alcohol industry and government to achieve its goals.  For further information visit