The Alcohol Education Trust - Parent Newsletter

Autumn Term, October 2017, Ed 27

We can’t believe we’re approaching half term already. For those of you whose teenagers have headed off to College and University we have a feature on drink spiking and the importance of understanding consent under the influence of alcohol. There’s been a lot in the press about students and drinking over the last few weeks, including how those who drink heavily are less focused on their career and future. For parents of younger children, we’ve some interesting facts and figures on teenager trends and how we can get talking in a natural way.

Did you see our CEO on the Good Morning Britain, ‘Wine O’Clock’ discussion, talking about how important it is for us to be good role models in front of our children? The feature was sparked by a range of merchandise aimed at Mum’s advocating drinking to de-stress and cope with the kids. It lead to a good debate that you can watch here:

We were also thrilled to be in the top six charities shortlisted for the Charity Times Awards - 'Best Small Charity of the Year'. This is such an accolade and testament to the dedication of our small team and trustees! We didn’t win sadly!

Freshers month – some good advice for your teenagers

Many of us have waved goodbye to our teenagers this month as they head off to Uni or College. They are overwhelmed with social events, challenges and making new friendships. It’s worth reminding them that even among their friends they need to watch their drinks, think carefully about who they accept drinks from and to look out for their friends. The substances used to spike drinks are often colourless and odourless and spiking often takes place at private parties, not just at pubs and clubs. A survey of students found a third had had their drinks spiked – truly shocking. Take a look at our advice here:  

A student from Southampton university describes what happened to him in a short clip here for you to share:

Important topics to discuss with older teens and young people

Another topic to discuss with your teenagers is consent. The law is clear: having of sex without getting consent is illegal and is rape or sexual assault. If the people involved are drunk, this could lead to a challenge from either party as to whether sex was consensual. Both parties have a right to change their mind at any time and, if alcohol is affecting their ability to say no or resist, or if they have passed out, even if they invited the other person into their room, then it could be argued that consent was not given. There have been some very high profile stories in the press recently where court cases have been brought, ruining both parties' lives. It’s a difficult subject to discuss, we know, but really important to understand.

You might find this clip helpful

Finally, and they’ll really love you for this, research has shown that heavy drinking, especially binge drinking,  disrupts the brain activity and information processing skills of students. A study of 9,000 students and graduates found a strong link between young people who drink excessively and those who do not have clear career goals.  24% admitted they drink excessively - more than 20 units a week. Of these, 63% had no idea what job they'll do after graduating. 58% said that they drink once a week, no more than seven units. Of these, 76% were very optimistic about securing a job in the next six months. Ben Thompson, 21, who is a student at the University of the West of England, said: "I think we're all the same: when we're hungover, we're more likely not to go to uni, miss our lectures."

The research was carried out by an organisation called which connects businesses with graduates. They said employers are often concerned that graduates are not always properly prepared for work. Bilal Mahmood, from, said: "The research essentially tells us that students social lives do impact their future career options - and students should use that time in their university lives more wisely and prepare themselves properly for what the world of work is actually going to be like."

And our final advice for you to pass on is to think about what is shared and posted on social media. Every minute of a night out is photographed and shared - and once it's out there, you can't take it back. If you've passed out or are out of it, you're fair game - and everyone will know about it by the next morning. Small wonder that almost half of youngsters have 'untagged' themselves in at least one online picture. Oh, and one more thing – a really good youtube 90 second clip on them getting their friends home safely after a big night out #notanambulance -

It’s not all bad news!

It’s important for you, and them to know that going out and getting drunk is no longer the norm – as the above figures show - 8 in 10 are not drinking to excess, but are still having a great time. Another report suggests that there is a cultural change among Millennials and their attitude to drinking. A survey of 1,023 millennials found that alcohol consumption is on the decline in the younger generation, who consume just five units a week on average. Only one in ten participants in the study saw getting drunk as cool. Four in ten felt negative about people who are drunk – seeing them as pathetic, embarrassing and belonging to an older generation - oh dear, no hope for us then! 

The report Brighter Futures - Challenging Perceptions of Millennials published in September identifies four themes:

  • On average, Millennials are spending £3,750 a year on going-out, £1,750 of which is spent on tickets to events. The numbers of people going out are up vs a year ago, and there’s a desire to do more; as well as a willingness to make sacrifices in day to day life to fund it.
  • Millennials are going out to a wide range of festivals and events – from music festivals to immersive experiences and wellness events. They’re fulfilling different needs for them: to meet people, to find love, to get out of their comfort zone, or to indulge themselves. 
  • Health lifestyles are up, alcohol is down. Events are playing a key role in this rise of wellness. 
  • One of the reasons for the drop in drinking is that Millennials want to enjoy (and remember) the moment more. Brighter-Futures-Eventbrite-Millennials-Report.pdf

11- 15 year olds – good news too

With a lot of parents and carers we meet around the country, we get feedback that there's the idea that 'everyone is doing it, so surely my youngster will be missing out if I don’t give them alcohol, especially when going to house parties?'  Again, times are changing, in 2003, one in five 11-15 year olds drank at least once a week - by 2014, that figure had dropped to one in 25. In the last 11 years, the proportion of 11-15 year olds who have never drunk alcohol has increased from two in five to two in three – so think about what is age appropriate and there is a world of difference between small amounts on special occasions and whole drinks. Our recent student survey found that kids didn’t expect their parents to give them alcohol before they were 15, whereas in our parent perceptions, respondents correctly identified that 13 was the average for a first drink – so are we pushing alcohol on our children rather than vice versa? – food for thought!!!

Young people may believe they're grown up in many respects, but their bodies have different ideas. The hormonal changes children go through at puberty make them more likely to taking risks, have unprotected sex -  getting drunk even once is linked to a higher risk of teenage pregnancy. Alcohol can further impair their judgement, leaving them vulnerable. Over a third of 16- and 17-year-olds have walked home alone at night when drunk. Their brains are developing, and alcohol is known to have a major effect on memory, concentration and attention span. Teenage years are a crucial age for learning, with your life-long prospects often dependent on how you perform. We don't know enough about the impact of alcohol on the adolescent brain, but we do know it's not good - and it's definitely more marked than in adulthood.

As an adult, you may feel you're the last person your teenagers will listen to. But that's far from the truth too. Teenagers are more likely to listen to their parents than anyone else, even if they don't tell you that. So don't wait for them to talk to you - and start the conversation the sooner the better – we find car journeys are good as you they can’t escape and you can avoid eye contact! Among young people who do drink alcohol, the average age to start is 13 years old, so you want to have a civilised conversation about it before they get misinformation from somebody else. You’ll find lots of tips in the parent area of our website.

11- 15 year olds – good news too

Don't worry about them losing respect for you if you tell them not to drink, even if you don’t drink yourself. Have the discussion about differences between your bodies – take a look at our interactive body on  and make sure you offer positive alternatives to going to that party you’re not sure about, such as going to the cinema with mates, a shopping trip, bowling – them being able to blame you for not being able to go, is just fine. But of course, it's going to be much harder for them to take you seriously if they regularly see you severely under the influence. The Chief Medical Officer recommends no more than 14 units a week, that’s about 7 pints or glasses of wine, spread over several days, for a reason. To find out more, you can download our free guide here.

Finally, it’s alcohol awareness week 13th – 20th November

We would love you to do something to help us raise the £170,000 that we need each year to keep our resources and the learning zone free for the  3,000 + schools that we support with teacher training and ongoing advice. A cake bake, sponsored week without booze, coffee morning or book sale would all help. We estimate that more than 500,000 youngsters use our zone, our activities, games and advice each year – helping them stay safe around alcohol at a cost of 30p a child. Do email for ideas and information.

AET resources comprise of and a Teacher Workbook, booklets ‘Alcohol and You’ for 15yrs+ and ‘Talking to Your Kids About Alcohol’ parent and carer guide.
We also offer teacher CPD workshops and parent information talks.

For further information on any of the above please contact
Helena Conibear, Founder, Director
Kathryn Arnott-Gent, Parent and Schools Coordinator - N Region
Helen Dougan, SE Region & SEND Coordinator
Kate Hooper, Schools Coordinator

Facebook Twitter

Gordon Redley BEd (Cantab)
Christina Benjamin BSc (Hons) PGCE
Patricia Garven Cert Ed.
Kate Larard MSc, HV, RM, SRN
Victoria Mc Donaugh MA (Hons), PGCE
Keith Newton ACA
Alison Winsborough BMus, PGCE

The Alcohol Education Trust, Frampton House, Frampton, Dorset, DT2 9NH

01300 320 869

Registered Charity Number 1138775