New survey data was released today in honor of April 21st, PowerTalk21 Day – the national day to talk with your kids about alcohol.  The 2017 Parent Survey was designed to guage parents’ attitudes and behaviors about teen drinking, especially during special occasions, such as prom.  The survey revealed that, of the 497 participants, almost half (39.44%) were not at all concerned about their child drinking alcohol, while 27.97% were only slightly concerned.

Rather than an indication of apathy, these answers may be more of an indication of confidence on the parents’ part that their children would NOT engage in this behavior, as the majority of parents (79.07%) responded that they did NOT think it is okay for their children under 21 to drink alcohol.

Also encouraging is that almost 80% had also talked to their children in the past 12 months about the risks of drinking alcohol under 21.

Though most seemed to be sending the message that it is never ok to drink underage, 12.6% indicated that they have told their kids it’s ok to drink as long as the parent is there.  Other parents offered various other exceptions to the “no drinking” rule, as well.

While MADD is encouraged by the majority of parents who are making efforts to talk with their kids about alcohol and make it clear to their kids that drinking under age 21 is not ok, we do feel it is important to make sure parents understand the dangers of allowing exceptions to that rule.

Dr. Turrisi, also added, “These findings hold up even when parents are excellent at other aspects of parenting, such as being good communicators and good role models.  The easiest way for parents to reduce the risk of harm coming to their teens is to not allow them to drink alcohol.”

This is important, because even though a large number did not seem worried that children would drink, they did agree that certain events and special occasions prompted concern.  Over 35% felt Prom brought a risk for kids to drink.  More than 27% worried about the issue at Spring Break and just under 24% saw Graduation as a potential for drinking.  Parents also recognized that often someone else may provide alcohol to their children with 13% thinking it extremely likely that a close friend or peer might be responsible.

MADD knows that parents cannot be with their children in every situation that may provide an opportunity to drink, but our research shows that parents are the biggest influence on their kids when it comes to drinking.  We have also found that one conversation may not do the job.  To be effective, parents need to have frequent and ongoing conversations about alcohol, helping kids think through what they’ll do in situations with alcohol –  ahead of time, instead of being caught off guard.   MADD has the tools and resources to help parents have these productive conversations.