Denmark: Four out of ten parents worry about their child's alcohol consumption
08.11.2023 - New figures from the Danish Cancer Society and TrygFonden reveal that nearly half of parents are concerned about their teenagers' alcohol consumption. Ongoing dialogue and agreements between parents and teenagers can contribute to the child drinking less.
For many parents, worries come with their teenagers getting older. They are nervous about, among other things, their teenager getting into an accident or being subjected to assault when the child has consumed alcohol. This is indicated by a new report, which the Danish Cancer Society and TrygFonden are behind. A full 44 percent of parents to 15-17-year-olds, who drink alcohol, have concerns regarding their child's alcohol consumption.
Parents' worries are understandable. Too much alcohol can end up ruining what otherwise might be a fun evening and increases the risk of accidents. But it can also have the worst conceivable outcome. Every month, alcohol is responsible, on average, for one death among 15-25-year-olds, explains Peter Dalum, who is the project manager at the Danish Cancer Society and TrygFonden's alcohol campaign 'Full of Life'.
However, parents of older teenagers actually have the opportunity to influence their child's alcohol consumption. A previous study on youth alcohol habits shows that many young people do not mind their parents interfering in their alcohol consumption.
Young people who have agreements about alcohol with their parents drink less. Therefore, we encourage parents to talk about alcohol with their teenager and make concrete agreements, says Søren Stokholm Thomsen, project manager at TrygFonden.
Continuous dialogue about alcohol can be a good guideline for many parents. The report shows that it can be a challenge for parents to intervene in their teenager's alcohol habits. One out of three parents believes it is harder to interfere after their child has started on a youth education program. And it is precisely when young people start on a youth education that alcohol consumption increases, a previous study shows.
18-year age limit for all alcohol
There are several reasons why it is important that parents continue to intervene and talk with their child about alcohol habits. A high alcohol consumption in the teenage years is associated with many serious health consequences in both the short and long term. For instance, high alcohol consumption increases the risk of accidents, violence, and conflicts. In the longer term, alcohol also increases the risk for more than 200 different diseases and conditions, including at least seven types of cancer.
An effective measure to reduce alcohol consumption and thus the health consequences is an 18-year age limit for the purchase of all alcohol.
We know that higher age limits are one of the most effective ways to reduce alcohol consumption among young people. The serious health consequences of alcohol call for action from politicians, so together we can take a step towards a healthier alcohol culture, says Peter Dalum.
Get help to have the talk with your teenager
It can be difficult for parents to have the talk about alcohol when their children suddenly become teenagers who go to parties and drink alcohol. How should one bring up the subject? And does my child even listen to me?
These are some perfectly natural questions to ask oneself. But fortunately, help is available. At www.alkoholdning.dk, parents can find inspiration for making decisions, having conversations, and making agreements with their teenager about alcohol. It is the Danish Cancer Society and TrygFonden's alcohol campaign 'Full of Life' that are behind this.
The Danish Cancer Society has also published a mini-podcast series that can make parents and others more knowledgeable about the parents' role with teenage children, what happens in a young teenage brain, and how to talk with their teenager about alcohol.
All three episodes can be found here: www.alkoholdning.dk/podcastserie.
About the report 'Parents' attitudes to young people's alcohol habits 2022'
The report maps out parents' knowledge and attitudes to alcohol consumption among their own children and Danish youth in general. The report is based on data from a web-based questionnaire survey among 1,497 parents with at least one child aged 13-17 years. Data was collected by the analysis bureau Epinion from November 14 to December 25, 2022. The data is nationally representative in relation to the parents' gender, child's age, and region. The report is prepared by the Danish Cancer Society and TrygFonden's effort 'Full of Life'.
Read the full report here