Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC)
Snapshot: Alcohol Use Among Teens Allowed to Drink at Home
Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) is a major study following the development of 10,000 young people and their families from all parts of Australia. This snapshot uses data from Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) to answer three main research questions:
- How many Australian teens are allowed to have alcohol at home?
- Does permission to have alcohol at home result in teens having more alcohol and a greater risk of experiencing alcohol-related harm?
- Which teens are more likely to be allowed to have alcohol at home?
Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) has been following the lives of the same 10,000 children since 2004. Australian teens aged 16–17 years are the focus of this snapshot asking them about their experiences with alcohol and for the first time in 2016, their parents were asked about their children’s alcohol consumption. The data is based on interviews of close to 3,000 teenagers and their families across the country.
- In 2016, around 28% of teens aged 16-17 were allowed to have alcohol at home. Approximately 18% of teens of this age were permitted to take alcohol to parties or social events.
- Overall, alcohol use was significantly more common among 16-17 year olds who were permitted to have alcohol at home, compared to those not allowed to have alcohol at home. Around three-quarters (77%) of teens with permission to have alcohol at home had alcohol in the past month, compared to 63% of teens without permission.
- Teens allowed to have alcohol at home were more likely to have experienced alcohol-related harm compared to those without permission (23% vs 17%, respectively).
- More frequent parental alcohol consumption was associated with a greater likelihood of teens being allowed to have alcohol at home.
These findings reveal that, in 2016, a significant proportion of parents allowed their teens aged 16-17 to have alcohol at home. Given previous harm reduction recommendations, some Australian parents might think that if they allow their child to have alcohol in low doses at home (such as having a beer or glass of wine at home with dinner), this will lead to a more responsible relationship with alcohol. However, greater rates of recent alcohol use and an increased likelihood of experiencing alcohol-related harms among those with permission to have alcohol at home provide further evidence to support the NHMRC’s guideline that children and people under 18 years of age should not have alcohol, even in environments or circumstances that might be considered ‘low risk’.
To this end, parents can reduce their child’s risk of harm by encouraging them to delay alcohol use for as long as possible. Educating parents and their children about current national alcohol use guidelines and alcohol-related consequences among young people, such as via the media and schools, might help to address alcohol harms in Australia.
Understanding when and how teens start having alcohol, and changes to alcohol use patterns over time, is important for identifying opportunities for interventions to address alcohol-related harms in Australia. Changes to alcohol legislation warrant ongoing investigations of any resultant impacts on the alcohol use practices and experiences of young people. The ongoing nature of LSAC will allow to monitor this.
Growing up in Australia: “Alcohol use among teens allowed to drink at home“
Growing up in Australia: “About the Study“