Children will copy parents who drink too much
Children who regularly see their parents drink are twice as likely to binge on alcohol themselves, a new survey shows.
Researchers questioned 5,700 teenagers and found one in four 13 to 14-year-olds have been drunk more than once, compared to just over half of children (52pc) who are 15-16.
Those who said they had seen their parents inebriated were twice as likely to have been drunk several times.
And the odds of a teenager having ever had an alcoholic drink are also greater if their parents do not know where they are on a Saturday night, or if they are allowed to watch 18-rated films unsupervised.
Social charity campaigner Claire Turner said: "This research shows that parents can have more influence on their teenagers' behaviour than perhaps many assumed.
"Both what parents say and how they behave have a strong impact on their teenagers drinking, drinking regularly, and drinking to excess."
The survey, carried out in England, found the influence of friends is the most significant factor in childhood drinking, as the likelihood of youths drinking to excess more than doubles if they spend more than two nights a week socialising.
Spending every night with friends multiplies the odds of drinking heavily more than four times. The report concluded that schools are key to distributing information about drinking.
"The findings suggest that efforts to improve drinking behaviour among young people at a national policy level are best directed at supporting and educating parents," it said.
"This should include positive messages for parents about how they can influence their child's behaviour and stress the importance of parents' own drinking and what their children see and think about this.
"Friends are another key area of influence. Schools could help here by challenging incorrect perceptions about the regularity and scale of heavy drinking by peer groups.
"Schools could also be a channel for information."