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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Providing Alcohol To Underage Youth

The reality is that most teenagers will be exposed to alcohol in one way or another before they graduate high school and most teenagers will have a misguided view concerning the dangers of alcohol by the time the leave for college, regardless of the efforts made by their parents. Parents have different opinions regarding their children’s exposure to alcohol. Many believe that sheltering their children and preaching abstinence is the correct approach, while others contend that allowing their children to drink on certain occasions under parental supervision is the right course.

Parents in the second group believe that their method will teach children to “drink responsibly;” however, while this approach appears to have some merit, new research suggests that this belief is misguided and it actually is associated with increased teen alcohol use, reports the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

“We suspect there is a surprising amount of ‘social hosting’ going on—parents providing alcohol for their teens and their friends,” said study co-author Ken C. Winters, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical School. “Parents probably aren’t aware that social hosting could have criminal implications in some states if things take a bad turn. I can appreciate that social hosting is often done with good intentions. Parents think they are preventing something worse by having their kids drink at home with their friends. But the risks are great.”

22 studies that dealt with the association between parental provision of alcohol and teen drinking were reviewed by the researchers, lead by Dr. Övgü Kaynak. They found that parental provision of alcohol is sometimes linked with increased “binge drinking” and higher rates of alcohol-related problems. They also found that there is little research to support that parental provision of alcohol leads to teenagers learning to drink responsibly.

“The most worrisome things parents can do are to model poor behavior by drinking excessively in front of their teens, and to provide alcohol to their teens,” Winters said. “I’m not talking giving about a sip of alcohol or an occasional glass of an alcoholic beverage with a meal for an older teenager. I’m referring to parents who host a drinking party and provide alcohol, thinking they will be able to make it safe. It creates more problems than it solves.”

The research team recommends that parents encourage their children to abstain from drinking until they reach the legal drinking age of 21.

The researchers report in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, you can view it Here.

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