Dangerous Sip

Many parents erroneously believe letting their kids try a little booze at a young age will discourage them from abusing alcohol as adults, a new study finds. And even though researchers insist there’s no merit in this “just a sip” approach to keeping kids away from drinking, a surprising 22 percent of mothers in a study they conducted believed such exposure would keep their kids sober as adults.

The study, which involved parents with children as young as third grade, found that nearly 33 percent of their children admitted they had tasted beer, wine or another alcoholic beverage. Yet social scientists have already determined that an early introduction to alcohol is a major risk factor for teen alcohol abuse.

“Parents believe what kids drink at home, under parental supervision, will be replicated when children are with their peers,” says Christine Jackson, a social ecologist affiliated with RTI International, which worked on the research along with scientists from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The study was published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.