Youth Alcohol Consumption Guidance Consultation

The following announcement was received from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and is published to assist them in reaching as many professionals as possible.

The government is giving key stakeholders and partners, including the education sector, the opportunity to shape guidance published this month on alcohol consumption, for parents of under 18s.

The guidance, published on 29 January by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) will empower parents and carers to educate their children and make sensible choices about consumption. The consultation will engage with the people who can make a difference including teachers, health professionals, youth workers, peer educators, GPs and the alcohol industry, on the guidance’s content and delivery.

The consultation is available online at:

Whilst an alcohol-free childhood is recommended by Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, the harsh reality is that by the age of 15 many children have already consumed alcohol and substantial numbers drink weekly.

A recent study found that students who drank frequently were over 3 times more likely to say they were behind in school work than more moderate drinkers[1]. Alcohol is also linked to missing school, with 60% of pupils who had truanted in the last year having drunk alcohol in the last week compared to 17% of those who had never truanted[2].

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises that schools should ensure that alcohol education is an integral part of the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education curricula. These messages are also set out in the Government’s Drugs: Guidance for Schools, and the recent review of Drug and Alcohol Education. Professionals working in all children’s services also need to be able to identify children and young people with alcohol related problems and make appropriate referrals to support services.

The Government now wants to consult with the people who can make a difference – from parents to key stakeholders such as teachers. The aim is to get opinion to help communicate this guidance from the CMO and the content of the Advice and Information that will help people to understand and act on this in order to help make sensible decisions and reduce the harms that young people and communities face from excessive youth drinking.

The five-point medical guidance will form part of the consultation launched by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls, Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, and the Chief Medical Officers of the UK.

Following the launch of the Youth Alcohol Action Plan in June 2008, it is a response to parent and carer feedback that they do not want Government to decide when or how their children are introduced to alcohol. What they want is clear messages on issues including:

  • the age children and young people can start to drink alcohol
  • how much is sensible for young people to drink
  • how far parents or carers should supervise young people’s drinking

The consultation will address messaging around these, to ensure that the guidance is successful in reducing negative impacts of alcohol on young people, families and the community.

Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer says,

Evidence shows how parents can influence young people’s alcohol use, by having strict rules on young people’s drinking, through supervision and management, and through the closeness of their relationships with their children. Parents and carers have asked for clear messages and we do not have all the answers, which is why this consultation has been set up.

“With the help of key stakeholders as well as parents and young people, we hope that this guidance will act as a valuable tool for reducing the impact of youth alcohol consumption on health, crime, violence and anti-social behaviour.”

The Chief Medical Officers’ Guidance on the Consumption of Alcohol by Children and Young People advises:

  • an alcohol-free childhood is the safest option – if children drink alcohol, it shouldn’t be before they reach 15 years old;
  • for those aged 15 – 17 years old all alcohol consumption should be with the guidance of a parent or carer or in a supervised environment;
  • children aged 15 – 17 years old should never exceed adult recommended daily maximums. As a general guide, children aged 15 and 16 should not usually drink on more than one day a week, children aged 17 should drink on no more than two days a week;
  • parental influences on children’s alcohol use should be communicated to parents, carers and professionals. Parents and carers need advice on how to respond to alcohol use and misuse by children;
  • support services must be available for children and young people who have alcohol related problems and their parents.

For more information or to get involved, please visit: or email [email protected]

[1] Perkins HW. Surveying the damages: A review of research on consequences of alcohol misuse in college populations. Journal of Studies on Alcohol. 2002(Suppl. 14):91-100.[2] NHS (2008) Statistics on Alcohol. The Information Centre for Health and Social Care.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.