PARENTS are being urged not to give their children alcohol as a reward for finishing their exams.

The message has come from Hilary McMullen who is a public health boss for Bradford Council on alcohol and follows shocking figures that nationally more than 15,000 drunk youngsters were admitted to hospital in just three years.

Charity Drinkaware has warned that around one in four parents will give their children alcohol this summer to help celebrate the end of the school term.

Its report found that on average, children aged 14 to 17 will be given the equivalent of four cans of beer, a bottle of wine or a third of a bottle of vodka at post-exam parties, holidays or festivals - the equivalent to nine units.

The study also found that more than half of parents had given their child a drink outside of the exam celebration period, with 86 per cent admitting they had done so because their child asked for it.

Miss McMullen said parents have a strong role to play in helping young people realise that drinking alcohol does not necessarily need to be part of celebrating.

She added: "Many parents may not realise that buying alcohol for teenagers is illegal. Doing so can send out the message that drinking is normal for teenagers. Young people and parents should be aware that alcohol can be hazardous to health and not drinking is the healthiest option."

Although 16 to 17-year-olds may see themselves as responsible drinkers, they can frequently overestimate how much they can drink.

"Getting intoxicated can significantly increase the chances of being involved in situations such as accidents, anti-social activities and risky sexual behaviour.

"Teenager’s bodies are still developing and there is growing evidence that drinking can have an impact on young people’s long and short-term health whilst their bodies are growing and changing, " said Miss McMullen.

Elaine Hindal, chief executive of Drinkaware, said: "The average amount some parents are providing is equivalent to a whole bottle of wine, and that is more than enough to get a 15-year-old drunk.

"No parent wants to think of their child out on their own being drunk and vulnerable, but effectively that is what we could be facilitating by giving alcohol as a reward.

"It is illegal for parents to purchase alcohol on behalf of someone under 18. Worse still, it normalises a culture of excessive drinking among young people."

National NHS guidance is that if 15 to17-year-olds do drink alcohol, they should do so infrequently and certainly on no more than one day a week.