TEENAGERS SAY IT’S WRONG
Surveys show that the majority of teenagers think that it’s wrong for parents to buy alcohol for their children. It’s not uncommon for teenagers to nag sometimes, to see where the boundaries lie, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they want their parents to give in to them. Because if you do, your teenager might well start to wonder what you actually mean when you warn them about the harms of drinking alcohol but, at the same time, are willing to buy it for them. Setting rules and sticking to them is a way of showing you care. Breaking them can be interpreted as meaning that you don’t care.
Everyone knows someone who knows someone who'll buy it for you. All they want is the money - they don't care that you're too young.
Liv, aged 15, Gothenburg
Selling alcohol to anyone under the age of 20 is, as you probably know, prohibited – unless they’re being served in a restaurant or buying “folköl” (mid-strength beer), where the minimum age is 18. Anyone buying alcohol for minors can be fined or imprisoned – it’s the person supplying a minor with alcohol who commits the crime, not the minor for whom it is bought.
IT’S NO GUARANTEE THAT THEY’LL DRINK LESS – QUITE THE REVERSE.
A lot of adults think that they’ll have better control of what their teenagers are drinking if they supply them with the alcohol. They think that a few ciders are better than a bottle of spirits. But teenagers’ drinking is usually more about getting drunk than about sipping a cider. A teenager who’s given a couple of bottles of beer or alcopop by their parents is unlikely to be satisfied with that. It’s more likely to be a bonus, given that they’re planning to drink anyway. There is no evidence to show that young people avoid contacting illegal dealers, for example, just because their parents have given them a few beers.
OLDER SIBLINGS AND FRIENDS
Many young people have older friends, siblings, or other adults who’ll buy alcohol for them. And it can be hard for them to refuse, even though most young adults believe it’s wrong. This is where you, as a parent, can make a difference. Talk to the over-20s in your child’s circle and help them say no. Tell them that you expect them to be adult enough to take responsibility. Together, you can present a united front.
EVERYONE ELSE’S PARENTS ARE NOT SAYING OK
Many parents are worried that their children will be left out. It’s common for young people to believe that others are allowed to do things that they, themselves, are not. It’s a concept that’s called “majority misunderstanding”. In reality, the vast majority of teens have the same discussions with their parents, and most parents are just as worried that their children will be excluded from the group. The answer is to talk to other parents and agree on what goes.