A new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that children who had sipped alcohol by the time they are in 6th grade were about 5 times more likely to have a full drink by the time they get to high school and 4 times more likely to get drunk, CNN reports.
“I don’t think parents need to feel that their child is ‘doomed,’ ” Kristina Jackson, one of the co-authors of the study, said of parents who have already let their kids have sips of alcohol.
“I think the most important thing is to make sure that children know when drinking alcohol is acceptable and when it is not,” said Jackson, a research associate professor at Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.
The study involved taking a survey of 561 middle school students in Rhode Island over a three-year period. It was noted that just a little under a third of the students said they had sipped alcohol by the start of middle school, with majority of them claiming to have gotten the alcohol from their parents at a party or on a special occasion.
26% of the kids who had taken sips of alcohol said they had a full drink by the ninth grade when compared to under 6% for the kids who never sipped alcohol, based on the survey results. 9% also confirmed to have had five or more drinks at one time or have gotten drunk in comparison to under 2% for the non-sippers.
“I would say that it is advisable not to offer your child a sip of your beverage, as it may send the wrong message — younger teens and tweens may be unable to understand the difference between drinking a sip and drinking one or more drinks,” Jackson said.
This latest study follows a similar report published last year in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, which came to the same conclusion that offering even small amounts of alcohol to children could lead to negative outcomes.