Parent attitudes on the supply of alcohol to minors


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Inappropriate supply of alcohol by parents is often cited as a cause of teenage hazardous drinking. We investigated parental attitudes regarding supply of alcohol to minors, in a country which recently increased alcohol availability and where drinking per se is not prohibited at any age. A postal survey of 748 parents of 13-17 year-olds (80% response) in three New Zealand communities was undertaken. Parents indicated agreement/disagreement with statements concerning teenage drinking and sources of alcohol, and described factors they considered in deciding whether to supply alcohol. Four in five parents disagreed with permissive statements such as ‘It's okay for parents to give their teenager one or two drinks to take to an unsupervised party’, and 59% agreed that ‘No one should supply alcohol to someone who is underage’. Recent suppliers commonly said they would only supply if there was suitable adult supervision at the drinking location. Many said they would only supply at home with a meal and reported restrictions on quantity and strength, e.g. ‘no spirits or mixed drinks’, ‘small quantity only’. Parents generally opposed supply to minors or they specified responsible conditions of supply. They favoured legal restrictions on availability and promotion, and greater enforcement of liquor laws. The findings should be interpreted in light of social desirability bias and limitations of generalisability outside the participating communities.