The World Cup: Teenagers and Alcohol

Will the 2014 Brazil World Cup lead to Family Fun or Family Fall Out?

The World Cup will be a major event on the sporting calendar and will emanate throughout the pubs and homes of the United Kingdom.

But parents may be anxious for another reason: worrying about how much there teenager will be drinking and whether they’ll get carried away celebrating the World Cup and perhaps taking risks they wouldn’t consider when sober.

Recent statistics from Family Lives’ Helpline highlight that the charity received 12877 calls between 1st March 14 & 31st May 14 with 834 calls concerning issues around the child-parent relationship. 212 related to risky behaviour – of which 67 calls directly concerned teenage alcohol use. Some adult carers may be worrying therefore how to protect their children from football fall-out as the number of young people engaging in risky behaviour may increase during June and July 2014.

Previous World Cup research carried out online on behalf of Family Lives* found that over one in five (21%) parents of children aged 11 to 21 believed their child will drink more alcohol due to the football tournament. However, not all of those parents thought that their child drinking more is a cause for concern (12%). More than one in 5 (21%) thought their child who drinks alcohol will be drinking more due to the World Cup.

Suzie Hayman, Family Lives, Trustee said:

“When children are young, we instill boundaries to protect them and keep them away from harm or danger. As they grow older and become teenagers, these naturally shift and change, but it’s still important to maintain your boundaries so that your teenager knows what kind of behaviour is acceptable, and knows that you care.  When teenagers understand the reasons behind your decision, and see that you've taken their opinions into account, they may be more motivated to co-operate.  Talk to your teen and let them know what is important to you and why. Give them a chance to respond, and make sure you really listen. You may find that the conversation is much more effective, as your teen gains a sense of responsibility. Work out what is really important to you and what you could let go. Too many boundaries can cause resentment and be impossible to maintain, so strike a balance and be prepared to re-negotiate throughout the World Cup.”

To allay parental concerns, here are some World Cup Top Tips from Family Lives for talking about alcohol during The World Cup.

  1. Talk openly about what you see as the potential dangers of Binge drinking - from health to safety - in a practical way so they don't tune out.
  2. Remember your own behaviour will influence them. Be honest about the reasons why you or people in general like drinking as well as the negatives of alcohol.
  3. Get the timing right. Try to find a relaxed time when you can both chat e.g. when you are giving them a lift, or watching TV rather than when they are half way out of the door or with their mates.
  4. Talk about how they may feel or what they may do under pressure - whether it is deciding what they do if they are offered a drink, or if a friend offers them a lift home after drinking.
  5. Research shows that unprotected and early sex is often linked to alcohol. Take time to talk about how alcohol can influence people's judgement and help them to think through how it might feel to regret   something the next day.
  6. Make them aware of drinks being spiked and not putting themselves in vulnerable situations. Get them and their friends to look out for each other.
  7. Explore how alcohol affects people in different ways, and how it can make some people aggressive and up for a fight. Talk through ways of keeping safe and walking away from trouble.
  8. Ensure your teens know that no matter how angry you may be with them you are there for them, so they will call you if someone gets hurt or they are worried about something.
  9. Find out the facts. You may want to talk about different drinks and their alcoholic strength - for example Alco pops can taste just like fizzy drink and without realising it the alcohol can have a huge effect.
  10. Try not to take it personally or feel downhearted if they don't take your advice, sometimes teens have to make their own mistakes to realise what you have said is true!

Parents and carers with concerns over teenagers and risky behaviour issues regarding the World Cup can call Family Lives’ Helpline free on 0808 800 2222, or e-mail or visit


Notes to editors:

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*Figures from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 4789 adults of which 460 are parents who have a child aged between 11 and 21 who drinks alcohol. Fieldwork was undertaken between June 11th and June 15th 2010.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Results showed that  more than one in ten (12%) parents of children aged 11 to 21 who drink alcohol think their child will drink more due to the World Cup but are not worried about it. Almost one in ten (9%) parents of children aged 11 to 21 who drink alcohol think their child will drink more due to the World Cup and are worried about it. More than one in 5 (21%) think their child who drinks alcohol will be drinking more due to the World Cup.