Thursday, January 29, 2009

Government guidance on children and alcohol will make things worse

A consultation document launched by Ed Balls, Alan Johnson and the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, is expected to advise parents not to allow children to drink any alcohol before they are 15.

Donaldson was promoting this line on the Today Programme this morning but, as Costigan Quist points out:

He didn't seem to be able to point to any evidence that children being given the odd drink by parents in a controlled environment actually did any harm.

What would such evidence look like?

It might show that children allowed to try alcohol at a young age by parents, in a controlled way such as at meal times, were more likely to drink to excess as teenagers or adults; or perhaps that such children had more health parents as adults than their peers who were forbidden alcohol at home.

Liam Donaldson didn't even suggest that he had anything like that. The best he could point to was anecdote and being on the safe side, both of which may simply be wrong, as he must know.

Elsewhere, on the Off Licence News website to be precise, Donaldson is quoted as saying:
"This guidance aims to support parents, give them the confidence to set boundaries and to help them engage with young people about drinking and risks associated with it."
But how will issuing such guidance give parents confidence?

A significant feature of British society over recent years has been the collapse of parental confidence. And the principal cause of that collapse is surely the flow advice from experts - many of them state-sponsored - telling parents how to do their job.

Donaldson's today interviews are just the latest contribution to this. I recommend Frank Furedi's Paranoid Parenting for an analysis of the phenomenon.

Meanwhile, Liberal Revolution shouts:

parenting is a responsibility to be EARNT - and I think parents should prove it if their abilities are so poor that the child’s future is put at risk.

How is it possible to sack people who fail abysmally at their jobs when the bar is so low for the crucial job of being a parent.

After nearly 12 years of Labour government such a view is neither terribly Liberal and it is certainly not revolutionary.

1 comment:

Frank Little said...

Will he advise against under-16s taking other mood-altering drugs: Ritolin, for example?