School is on summer break, officially, for most kids. The older they grow, the more varied the influences in their lives become. Summer break may mean more time with friends out of earshot of educators and out of sight of parents. It may be easier and less embarrassing or uncomfortable to just let the schools and TV public service announcements advise the generation about drinking's hazards... but peers hold a lot of sway. And so do advertisers (see yesterday's blog post). What makes the difference is not waiting for teachers or government or entertainers to guide them, according to this article from the alcohol research news archive. It's a long way of saying, they STILL listen even when you don't think teens ARE hearing.
Parental involvement does more to discourage underage
drinking than the school environment can, according to research
December 4 by three universities.
Specifically, the researchers looked at how “family social
capital” and “school social capital” changed the chances for
and/or frequency of alcohol
use by children. Family social capital can be described as the bonds
between parents and children, such as trust, open lines of
communication and active engagement in a child’s life. School
social capital captures a school’s ability to serve as a positive
environment for learning, including measures such as student
involvement in extracurricular activities, teacher morale and the
ability of teachers to address the needs of individual students.
Parenting is a better block to underage drinking than the schools,
according to the North Carolina State University news release on the
"To be clear, school programs that address alcohol and
marijuana use are definitely valuable, but the bonds parents form
with their children are more important. Ideally, we can have both,"
says Dr. Toby Parcel, a professor of sociology at NC State and
co-author of a paper on the work.
The researchers looked at data from a nationally representative
sample that collected information from more than 10,000 students, as
well as their parents, teachers and school administrators. The
research, to be included in the quarterly Journal
of Drug Issues, evaluated marijuana use and alcohol use
“Parents play an important role in shaping the decisions their
children make when it comes to alcohol and marijuana,” says Parcel.
In both cases, researchers at NCSU (in conjunction with Brigham Young
University and Penn State University) found that students with high
levels of family social capital and low levels of school social
capital were less likely to have used marijuana or alcohol – or to
have used those substances less frequently – than students with
high levels of school social capital but low family social capital.
More than 10 million American youth under the age of 21 drink
alcohol, and more than a million of them are binge drinkers,
according to the American Medical Association. One in four teens in
the United States have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days.
"Underage drinking should not be a normal part of growing up.
It's a serious and persistent public health problem that puts our
young people and our communities in danger," said U.S. Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Administrator Pamela S. Hyde in a related November 26 examiner.com
"Even though drinking is often glamorized, the truth is that
underage drinking can lead to poor academic performance, sexual
assault, injury, and even death." Teen drinking also can lead to
abuse as an adult or the disease
-- from examiner.com