17:37 15 January 2010
A new government campaign which asks parents and young people "why let drink decide?" has been launched by comedian Bill Bailey and Children's Secretary Ed Balls.
The national drive, which also sees contributions from fellow comedians Jo Brand, Josie Long and Russell Kane, aims to raise awareness of how alcohol can make young people vulnerable to problems such as unwanted pregnancies, road traffic accidents and poor marks at school.
It aims to help parents work with their children to establish a safe and sensible relationship with alcohol.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) why let drink decide? campaign is launched ahead of the Families & Relationships Green Paper to be published later this month.
The forthcoming Green Paper will explore new and innovative ways to provide independent help and support on positive parenting with teenagers, as well as information about handling the kinds of issues parents often worry about the most, like teenage drinking.
To kick-start the why let drink decide? campaign, Bill Bailey, Jo Brand, Josie Long and Russell Kane gave their support to an online campaign which has since been viewed by over 58,000 people.
Childrens Secretary Ed Balls said: We want to encourage families to have open and frank discussions about the risks associated with drinking earlier, and to support this by giving parents the advice and information they have asked for. This is about making sure we put young people in charge of their future not alcohol
We know that parents can have an enormous influence on their childs behaviour often far more than they realise. We will soon be publishing the Families and Relationships Green Paper and in this we aim to support parents by arming them with independent advice and information to help them have a positive relationship with their child.
"And at the same time we will respect that parents and families are a private business one that Government should not interfere in unless a risk to a child or person is evident."
Research shows that 80% of young people who felt their parents would disapprove of them drinking had never drunk alcohol. However statistics also show that many parents do not speak to their children about alcohol until their child gets drunk for the first time.
The campaign aims to get parents talking to their children about alcohol earlier, to help the family work together to build a safe and sensible relationship with alcohol.
The TV and radio advertisements will be supported by leaflets to be distributed in GPs' surgeries and a new website for parents where they can get tips and advice on how best to advise and support their child about the dangers associated with alcohol.
Additional activity with social networking sites and cinema advertisements aim to give young people the confidence and advice to effectively manage their own relationship with alcohol. With the right advice and support the Government hopes to delay the age at which young people first start drinking, and reduce the amount that is drunk once they do start.
Bill Bailey said: Comedy is a great way to get information across and if people are laughing and enjoying it, you can slip messages or something more serious in under the radar and I think it has more of an impact.
For this campaign, we filmed a scene as if Im performing in a club. When you watch it you think that youre in one scenario, then it pulls back to reveal something else. I like the way it plays with your perception.
Parents tend to be hung-up on the other problems that kids can get into like unprotected sex or drugs. Alcohol tends to be put on the back burner a bit but the reality is that these problems are more than likely to be fuelled by alcohol anyway.
The main message is to get parents to engage with their children more and talk to them on a regular basis about alcohol.
The launch follows research which shows that 40% of the 13-year-olds and 58% of the 15-year-olds who have drunk alcohol had experienced negative consequences, including having an argument or fight; visiting an A&E department, being admitted to hospital overnight or having an injury.
Results from a survey published in December 2009 showed parents often fail to make the link between alcohol and risky behaviours.
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