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National Statistics
Publication, Part of

Statistics on Alcohol, England 2020

Official statistics, National statistics
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
United Kingdom
Geographical Granularity:
Country, Strategic Health Authorities, Primary Care Trusts, Government Office Regions, Local Authorities, Regions, Clinical Commissioning Groups, County, Primary Care Organisations
Date Range:
01 Jan 2018 to 31 Dec 2018

Part 5: Drinking behaviours among children

This section presents a range of information on drinking behaviours among children including  drinking prevalence, consumption, age of first alcoholic drink, prevalence and frequency of drunkenness, and consequences of drinking. This information has been taken from Smoking, Drinking and Drug use among Young People in England (SDD)  which surveys pupils in secondary schools across England to provide national estimates and information on the smoking, drinking and drug use behaviours of young people aged 11 - 15. The SDD survey is completed at school in exam conditions without the involvement of parents or teachers.

The question used in SDD to establish whether a pupil had drunk alcohol changed in 2016 to improve the estimate of drinking prevalence.  However the estimates from 2016 onwards are not comparable with previous surveys.  More information is available in the appendices of the SDD report.

 

Drinking prevalence

Ever had an alcoholic drink, by year

Between 2003 and 2014 there was a decline in the proportion of pupils who had ever had an alcoholic drink.

In 2018, 44% (confidence interval 41-46%) of pupils said they had ever had an alcoholic drink, the same as in 2016. 

Data prior to 2016 is not comparable due to a change in the survey question.

Time series chart showing the  proportion of pupils who had ever had alcoholic drink from 1988 to 2018

 

Ever had an alcoholic drink, by sex and age

Prevalence of having ever had an alcoholic drink was the same for boys and girls.

It varied with age, increasing from 14% of 11 year olds to 70% of 15 year olds.

Bar chart showing the proportion of pupils who ever had an alcoholic drink by age

 

 

Drinking in the last week

When pupils drink

For this question, pupils were able to give more than one answer.

Pupils who drank in the last week were most likely to have done so on Saturday (67%). 38% drank on Friday, and 30% drank on Sunday. The proportion was 10% or less for weekdays.

Bar chart showing the proportion of pupils who had drunk by days of the week

 

How much pupils drink (units), by age

Pupils who drank alcohol in the last week consumed an average (mean) of 10.3 units that week. This is an estimate and subject to a margin of error: the proportion in the population is likely to be somewhere between 9.1 and 11.6.

21% of pupis who drank in the last week were estimated to have drunk more than 15 units. Younger pupils who drank in the last week were more lilkely to have drunk fewer units than older pupils.

Note: this is based only on pupils who said they had a drink in the last week (10% of all pupils). Quantities of alcohol were converted into units of alcohol, using a standard method described in Appendix B of the source publication.

Bar chart showing the mean number of units pupils drank by age

 

 

Prevalence of drunkenness

Pupils who were drunk in the last four weeks, by sex

9% of pupils said they had been drunk in the last four weeks, including 6% of pupils who had been drunk once or twice, and 2% more often.

Girls (11%) were more likely to have been drunk in the last four weeks than boys (7%).

Bar chart showing the proportion of pupils who were drunk in the last four weeks, by sex

 

Pupils who were drunk in the last four weeks, by age

The proportion of pupils who reported having been drunk in the last four weeks increased with age.

22% of 15 year olds reported having been drunk in the last four weeks, compared with 1% of 11 and 12 year olds.

Bar chart showing the proportion of pupils who were drunk in the last four weeks, by age

 

 

Where pupils get alcohol

How obtained alcohol in the last four weeks

This measure is based on pupils who obtained alcohol in the last four weeks. Pupils could give more than one answer to this question.

Of pupils who obtained alcohol in the last four weeks, they were most likely to have been given it by parents or guardians (71%). Other common sources were to be given it by friends (49%), or to take it from home with permission (48%).

9% of pupils said they had bought alcohol from a shop or pub in the last 4 weeks, with 15 year olds the most likley to have done so (14%).

Bar chart showing where pupils obtained alcohol in the last four weeks

 

Where current drinkers usually buy alcohol

24% of current drinkers said they usually bought alcohol from friends or relatives, the most common source. 19% said they usually bought alcohol from any retailer or licenced premises, though this was higher for older pupils; 26% of 15 year olds, compared to 12% of 11 to 13 year olds (see table 6.5).

61% of current drinkers said they never buy alcohol, the proportion being higher for younger pupils; 76% of 11 to 13 year olds  (not shown on chart).

Bar chart showing where pupils bought alcohol in the last four weeks

 

 

Pupils’ attitudes towards drinking

Pupils’ attitudes to drinking by people of the same age

Following a general decline in tolerance of drinking and getting drunk since 2003, the last 2 surveys indicate a slight relaxing of attitudes in recent years.

In 2018, 27% thought that it was OK to drink alcohol once a week, up from 24% in 2014 (though still down from 46% in 2003). 9% of pupils thought it was OK to get drunk once a week, up from 7% in 2014 (though down from 20% in 2003).

47% of 15 year olds thought it was OK to drink alcohol once a week, and 19% thought it was OK to get drunk once a week (see table 7.11).

Proportions for trying alcohol and trying to get drunk have followed similar trends to those described above.

Time series chart showing pupils' attitudes to drinking from 2003 to 2018

 

 

Alcohol consumption by other household members

When last drank alcohol, by number of people who drink alcohol that pupil lives with

Pupils who lived with people who drank alcohol were more likely to drink alcohol themselves.

Only 2% of pupils who lived with only non-drinkers had drunk alcohol in the last week. 15% had ever drunk alcohol.

Among pupils who lived with three or more people who drank, the proportion who had drunk alcohol in the last week rose to 20%, and the proportion who had ever drunk was 67%.

Bar chart showing when last drank alcohol, by number of people who drink alcohol that pupil lives with
Last edited: 31 January 2020 2:42 pm