A new study has found that children pick up boozing from home.
Based on this, researchers are warning that if parents want to keep alcohol away from their middle school children, the best place to start is at home.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers including principal investigator Kelli Komro and lead author Mary O Hearst at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
As part of the study, researchers studied a cohort of 3,709 students, mainly of Hispanic and African-American backgrounds, who were surveyed in 58 Chicago public schools at the beginning and end of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.
The study is unique as no other study has followed young, racially diverse, poor urban youth over a two and a half year period, observing patterns of social and commercial alcohol access in this manner.
Researchers found that out of the 11-14 year olds who choose to drink, only a small fraction (2.4 percent in the 6th grade, rising to 5.6percent at the end of the 8th grade) obtained alcohol from commercial venues. More than one-third of the alcohol consumed by these children came from their own or a friend's parents or guardians.
The study also found that proportion of alcohol users is also disturbing; 17percent at the start of the 6th grade and more than twice as many, 41percent by the end of the 8th grade.
Researchers concluded that parents should consider their positions as role models at the crucial time when their middle school children are likely to have their first serious encounters with alcohol.
"Early onset of drinking leads to a long list of alcohol-related problems. It is important to educate parents about the consequences of alcohol use at a young age and try to prevent them from being their child's primary source of alcohol," Hearst said.
The findings of the study were published in the June issue of Preventive Medicine.