THURSDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Some 709,000 youngsters aged 12 to 14 in the United States are drinking beer, liquor and other alcoholic beverages, a new federal study found.
And the surprise is that many of these underage drinkers aren't just getting a friend to buy a six pack for them or smuggling alcohol out of the family liquor cabinet. Some are getting the alcohol directly from a parent, guardian or another adult relative.
In the past month alone, more than 200,000 kids were given alcohol by a parent or other adult family member, according to a report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
That's not counting the youngsters who are drinking on the sly.
"About 5.9 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds have used alcohol in the past month," said Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. "That's a pretty large number."
"And almost all of these kids got that alcohol for free," he said.
In fact, about 45 percent got alcohol from a parent or other family member or they took it from their home without permission, Delany added.
About 15 percent of these kids just took the liquor, but 15.7 percent got it directly from that parent or guardian and another 14 percent got it from another relative, he said.
Why parents are giving their kids alcohol isn't clear, Delany said. "Anecdotally, parents say, 'Well, at least they are drinking at home and not on the street, or at least they are not smoking marijuana' -- all kind of silly things," he said.
"If you want to have a big impact on preventing problems with youth alcohol use, it starts at home," he said. "This is a wholly preventable behavior."
Delany suggests locking up all the liquor at home and never giving any to young children.
Although some parents may not realize it, being a regular drinker as
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