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Why don’t friends and relatives of underage drinkers comply with secondary supply laws in NSW?

Alcohol Teenagers Parenting and guardianship Youth drinking New South Wales Australia

Executive summary

The Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol recommend that “for children

and young people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option”. However, in Australia the majority of children have tried alcohol by the age of 12 and there is a perception among many adolescents and adults that underage drinking is a normative behaviour.

Research shows that, in addition to the strong influence of perceived peer norms, adult approval and acceptance of alcohol use is highly correlated with underage drinking behavior.

In Australia, almost 60 per cent of alcohol consumed by 12-17 year olds is supplied by friends, relatives or strangers (with much of the remainder provided by parents). The provision of alcohol to people under the age of 18 by someone other than their parent or guardian, or another adult with the express consent of their parent or guardian, is illegal in most (but not all) Australian jurisdictions.

There is a substantial body of research into the reasons why people do (and do not) comply with the law, particularly in the context of driving offences and crimes against property (such as vandalism, theft and littering).  The main obedience variables identified a s predictors of compliance are Personal Morality, Deterrence, Perceived Legitimacy, Social Norms and Procedural Fairness.

The study presented in this report sought to explore why Australian adults continue to provide alcohol to adolescents despite being aware that this behavior is illegal. Given the substantial body of literature exploring reasons for compliance with traffic laws, we also sought to explore similarities and differences in perceptions of secondary supply, speeding, and drink driving offences.

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