Young people * Healthy living

Unhappy children turn to sex and alcohol

Unhappy children turn to sex and alcohol Linked to unhappiness at home and school

Children as young as 13 years old who don’t like school are more likely to be involved in under-age drinking.

And the more they drink, the more likely they are to take part in risky behaviour such as underage sex.

The findings came from a study of more than 3500 young people between the ages of 11 and 14 from 15 schools in the north west of England by a research team at Liverpool's John Moore's University.

Professor Mark Bellis, who led the team, said: “As young as 13 years old, children who drink alcohol are much more likely to have had sex. The more they drink, the higher the risks of early sexual behaviour."

The team assessed the young teenagers general well-being by asking questions such as how happy they were with the way they looked, how well they got on with their parents, how much they liked school, and how their teachers treated them.

According to the findings, children who said they disliked school were twice as likely to drink alcohol and two and a half times more likely to be involved in a sexual activity.

Children who drunk alcohol at least once a week were found to be 12 times more likely to be involved in any sexual activity and ten times more likely to be having sex.

Professor Bellis said: “Our study identifies that the children who drink and are sexually active are also more likely to be unhappy with their school and home lives.

Such children can become disengaged from both family and educational support and risk progressing to sexually transmitted infections, teenage pregnancies or becoming an alcohol related casualty at an accident and emergency unit.

“This study paints a clear picture that the children we most need to support are often the hardest to reach through conventional educational and parental routes.”

The findings are published in the journal Substance Abuse, Treatment, Prevention and Policy.

This article was published on Wed 10 November 2010

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