It’s the time of year that every school-age kid dreads—the end of summer, which means… back to school. While finishing up last-minute summer projects and gathering the necessary supplies for the school year is likely keeping your family busy enough, MADD would like to suggest one more item to add to your back to school checklist: talking with your kids about alcohol.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia™) recently released their 17th annual “back-to-school survey” to track attitudes of teens and those, like parents, who influence them. They surveyed 1,003 kids ages 12 to 17 with questions about school, family, social networking, their friends’ and classmates’ substance use, and their access to tobacco, alcohol, and illegal and prescription drugs.
As we expected, the results of this survey support the need for MADD’s Power of Parents™program. The program, sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, relies on research showing that parents have the power to influence their teen’s decisions about alcohol by setting expectations with your teens about alcohol use. Some key findings of the CASAColumbia survey include:
- Parental expectations, particularly expressing strong disapproval of teen substance use, can be a decisive factor in a teen’s decision to drink alcohol.
- Teens who say their parents would not be extremely upset if they found out they drank alcohol are almost four times more likely to have drunk alcohol (58% vs. 15%).
- Teens who say their parents would not be extremely upset if their parents found out that they drink are ten times more likely to say it’s OK for teens their age to get drunk than teens who say their parents would be extremely upset (22% v. 2%).
We hope that this information will give all parents and caregivers the push they need to talk with their kids about alcohol to help keep them safe, as they head back to school. MADD has tools available that can help with this difficult discussion. Use our Power of Parents handbook to talk with you teens about not drinking alcohol until they are 21 and never getting in the car with someone who has been drinking, or visit the parent section of our website to get more tips and expert resources for talking with your kids about alcohol.