Comedians highlight dangers of alcohol

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Children’s Secretary Ed Balls has joined forces with comedian Bill Bailey to raise awareness of how alcohol can make young people vulnerable to problems such as unwanted pregnancies, road traffic accidents and poor marks at school.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families ‘why let drink decide?’ campaign is being launched ahead of the Families & Relationships Green Paper to be published later this month.

The Green Paper will explore new and innovative ways to provide independent help and support on positive parenting with teenagers, as well as information about handling the kinds of issues parents often worry about the most, like teenage drinking.

Research shows that 80 per cent of young people who felt their parents would disapprove of them drinking had never drunk alcohol. However statistics also show that many parents do not speak to their children about alcohol until their child gets drunk for the first time. The campaign aims to get parents talking to their children about alcohol earlier, to help the family work together to build a safe and sensible relationship with alcohol.

Ed Balls said: “This campaign is the start of offering clear and consistent advice for families, by building on the recent findings of the Chief Medical Officer which were widely supported by parents and young people.

“We want to encourage families to have open and frank discussions about the risks associated with drinking earlier, and to support this by giving parents the advice and information they have asked for. This is about making sure we put young people in charge of their future – not alcohol

“We know that parents can have an enormous influence on their child’s behaviour – often far more than they realise."

Children’s Minister Dawn Primarolo said: “We want parents to have the confidence to have conversations with their children about alcohol from an early age so that families can work together to develop safe and sensible relationships with alcohol. Ultimately we want young people to delay the age at which they start drinking and to ensure that if and when they do drink alcohol, they drink less.”

The campaign responds to one of the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations from his final guidance on alcohol and young people, published in December 2009. The guidance gives five clear recommendations about alcohol and young people, including that the importance of a parent’s influence on their child's alcohol use should be better communicated to parents and carers with coherent advice aimed specifically at parents.

The TV and radio advertisements will be supported by leaflets to be distributed in GPs surgeries and a new website for parents where they can get tips and advice on how best to advise and support their child about the dangers associated with alcohol.

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