Alcohol abuse by children is a major issue for regeneration practitioners

It was extremely encouraging to see such extensive pickup by the media of Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson’s guidance on the consumption of alcohol by children and young people.

While alcohol is part of our national culture and can positively contribute to family, community and cultural life, when it’s not managed responsibly it can cause serious harm to children. Although more children and young people are choosing not to drink at all, those that do are drinking more, more often, and starting at a younger age.

The average amount of alcohol consumed in a week by 11-to-15 year old children has increased substantially in the last 17 years, for both boys and girls, rising from 5.3 units in 1990 to 12.7 units in 2007. In fact, an estimated 360,000 children aged 11-15 were drunk in the last week alone.

Alcohol can damage well-being and put young people at a number of immediate risks. It can impact on their health and future prospects. Of particular concern is the rise in alcohol consumption outside in public places, such as parks and the high street.

This type of drinking, that is unsupervised, is most clearly linked with putting young people at immediate danger of ending up in hospital, having unsafe sex, suffering injury or getting involved in violent crime/ anti-social behaviour.

The cost to the taxpayer for the criminal justice system having to deal with alcohol-related crimes by under-18s is estimated at between £915 million and £1.15 billion. Government realises that alcohol consumption by children and young people is a major issue for regeneration practitioners and believes that the industry has invaluable views, opinions and experience that could help shape the way that the new guidance is delivered to children.

We now want regeneration practitioners to join other relevant stakeholders – from parents to teachers – to contribute to the young people and alcohol guidance consultation. Visit


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