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Parents blamed for binge-drinking

Parents who give their children alcohol are responsible for the rise in binge-drinking among teenagers, the government claims.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls said young people in the UK consume "extremely high" quantities of alcohol compared with children in other countries.

Mr Balls said: "If parents give 15 and 16-year-olds a four-pack to go off and have a drink, I think that's the wrong thing to do.

"I'm not sure we have said that enough as a society.

"Part of our problem with excessive drinking by teenagers is that a lot of the alcohol is bought by parents, family members and older friends.

"I don't think the right thing to do is to say no teenager should ever have a drink.

"It's part of a sensible approach to alcohol for teenagers from time to time to have a drink at home.

"But I do think it is wrong for teenagers to be helped to drink heavily and outside the home."

Mr Balls made the claim as he unveiled a government report which will form the basis of a new Children's Plan for the next 10 years to be published next month.

He added that the number of teenagers who drink alcohol has fallen recently, but those who are drinking "are drinking a lot more than they were".

Department for Children, Schools and Families

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"I think parents need to to be held to account to some extent, do they drink too much? Do their children see them getting 'merry'? Do they encourage their children to 'have one'? It is a drug at the end of the day and needs to be treated as such. Peer pressure is also very strong. Parents need to make their children feel secure so they are less likely to do what others do" - Name and address supplied

"Teenagers need to learn that moderate drinking is acceptable but that binge drinking is harmful. The best way for them to learn this is by observing where it is appropriate, ie, by parent's example, not by hiding it and being influenced by friends to binge" - Name and address supplied

"I don't think there should be any mystery surrounding alcohol" - Name and address supplied