The best time to educate children about drinking is between the ages of eight and 12, according to Hertfordshire’s Alcohol Campaigns Group.
The organisation, part of the county’s community safety unit, is launching the campaign to make sure school-age children have the facts so that they can make responsible decisions when faced with peer pressure from friends.
According to the group, children tend to listen to friends more than their parents after the age of 12.
Programme manager Kate Moore said: “Children’s attitudes to alcohol change as they grow up, particularly during the transition from primary to secondary school, so it’s a good idea to talk to them before the teen years and before their friends do.”
Glenda Lee, of Hemel Hempstead’s drug and alcohol recovery service Spectrum, provided by CRI, is behind the scheme. She said: “I am in favour of teaching children about alcohol, and that is based on the evidence that we see in our services.
“If you look at the assessment paperwork of an adult who is using our services because of alcohol misuse, they were very often children when they started drinking. It is a family issue.”
Glenda thinks it is not just the children, but adults too who should be educated. She said: “Children get misinformed about alcohol by watching their parents drink and because of the pub culture of the UK. The whole family needs to be taught.
“Children are getting information in other areas of their lives anyway, so giving them the right information early on is better.”
Research shows that 80 per cent of parents or carers would only approach the subject with their children once they are already involved with alcohol.
Lisa Britton, manager of LINK family services, which supports families of children in 15 schools in Hemel Hempstead, said: “In my experience, often parents want to be guided on what to say and are not confident in how to tackle this kind of subject.
“I do feel that, rather than talking, it is the behaviour they model to their children that will have a greater impact on them.”