Acquiring a Taste: Alcohol Experiences of German Elementary School Children
Few data are available on alcohol experiences among elementary school children, although early onset and trying of alcohol use is known to be a risk factor for adolescent alcohol abuse. Until now, research leaves open the question on which factors encourage early trying behavior. In a cross-sectional study design, a written survey was conducted in 49 randomly selected elementary schools in Germany. The survey was carried out among 3rd and 4th graders with a median age of 9 years during class time in the school year 2010/2011. 1806 questionnaires were included in the study. The risk behavior of having tried alcohol was analyzed. A total of 37.7% (n = 681) of all children reported to have already tried alcohol. While grade and age had no significant influence in the final multivariate model, the gender effect stayed relevant (Male: aOR 1.2, 95%-CI 1.0–1.5), as did the question of whether the child liked going to school (No: aOR 1.4, 95%-CI 1.1–1.7), a lack of parental monitoring (aOR 1.5, 95%-CI 1.1–2.1), consistent parenting (Sometimes/never: aOR 1.5, 95%-CI 1.1–1.9), a regularly provided break-time snack (No: aOR 2.2, 95%-CI 1.3–3.8), as well as parents’ drinking (Yes: aOR 2.0, 95%-CI 1.6–2.6) and drinking among peers (Yes: aOR 8.5, 95%-CI 6.2–11.6). Our study shows that alcohol experiences can be highly prevalent among 3rd and 4th grade elementary school children in Germany. Our findings suggest that especially those variables which may be controlled by the parents are strongly associated with children’s alcohol experiences suggesting a starting point for preventative intervention measures. The results also indicate the need for innovative gender-sensitive approaches in the living environment of elementary school children.
KeywordsAlcohol trying behavior Early onset Parental monitoring Gender approach
This project was funded by the priority program “primary prevention” of the German Cancer Aid.
E.M. conceptualized the study, developed the study protocol, was responsible for the analysis and wrote the initial draft of the paper. H.R. collaborated in the analyzing process data analysis and writing the paper. D.S. was conducting the analysis. E.O. collaborated the analyzing process and in writing the paper. G.N. collaborated in analyzing the data and writing the paper. U.Z. assisted in conceptualization of the study, developing the study protocol and writing the paper.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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