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Amy Poehler's character, Mrs George, in Mean Girls. Photo: Paramount Pictures

Should parents give their kids alcohol to teach responsible drinking?

"Do you want a little bit? Because if you're going to drink I'd rather you do it in the house."

It’s one of the more quotable lines from Amy Poehler’s cool mum character, Mrs George, in 2004 hit Mean Girls but Australian researchers have said this sort of approach may have a flow on effect and increase an adolescent’s risk of heavy drinking.

Dr Gary Chan, from The University of Queensland’s Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, said the research team found adolescents living in regions where parental supply of alcohol was high were more likely to engage in heavy drinking.

“Parents need to be aware that by providing alcohol to their children, they are not only encouraging their son or daughter’s heavy drinking, but their children’s peer group as well," Chan said. "Teens are likely to share alcohol they receive from their parents with their friends."

“In communities where parental supply is common, adolescents may also have a heightened perception that alcohol is easily available and underage drinking is socially endorsed.”

Chan said the positive news is the percentage of parents who supplied alcohol to their children has decreased since 2004.

Previous studies found parents believed that by supplying their children with alcohol they could teach them to drink responsibly and reduce alcohol-related harm in the longterm, Chan said, however, he added a review of 22 studies found parental supply of alcohol was associated with more adolescent alcohol use, heavy episodic drinking and alcohol-related problems.

“Our results strengthen the evidence for communities with a high level of adolescent alcohol use to form a local coalition of key stakeholders, such as parents and school groups, to educate parents about the harmful consequences of supplying alcohol to young people,” Chan said

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