Acquiring a Taste: Alcohol Experiences of German Elementary School Children

Eva Muenster*, Heiko Rueger, Daniel Spahn, Elke Ochsmann, Giulio Napolitano, Ulrike Zier

*Corresponding author for this work


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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)2694-2702
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2017


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