The UK’s teenage girls get drunk more than those in any other developed country, a new international report has found.
A third of all 13 and 15-year-olds in the UK have been drunk at least twice and 15-year-old girls in the UK are more likely to have been drunk than boys, according to the study.
It pointed out that while the UK spends an above-average £90,000 on each child from birth to age 18, this has yielded disappointing results.
Along with a poor record on alcohol use, the UK’s teenage pregnancy rate is fourth highest among developed countries, behind Mexico, Turkey and the United States.
The study was compiled by the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, using data from 2005-06.
It did find that British children experience relatively low rates of bullying, have a high quality of school life and are materially well-off.
Dawn Primarolo, the Children’s Minister, said: “It is disappointing to see the UK rated so low for risky behaviours.”
She added that the Government is “launching a social marketing campaign and guidance for parents, children and young people early next year to tackle harmful drinking in children and young people”.
In June, a report for the London Assembly found girls aged eleven to 15 had caught up with their male peers’ heavy drinking habits.
The study showed that the capital’s youngsters in this age group consume the equivalent of 180,000 bottles of lager every week.
While girls now drink as much as boys, they are almost twice as likely to end up in hospital because of their lower tolerance for alcohol.
Commenting on the OECD report Dawn Primarolo also pointed to new plans for PSHE to become a compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools which include controversial new sex education lessons.
However, critics have pointed out that despite millions being invested in sex education schemes already, the UK’s teenage pregnancy rate remains the highest in Western Europe.