A new study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) finds 45 percent of teenage respondents report consumption of alcohol in the past month and 64 percent of the students who drank said they were binge drinking, which is defined as having five or more alcoholic drinks in a row.
The report, published in the January 2007 issue of Pediatrics, also found that binge drinking is strongly associated with sexual activity, violence, and other risky behaviors.
“Contrary to popular belief, parents remain the greatest influence over their children’s behavior,” said Richard Gallagher, Ph.D., Director of the Parenting Institute and the Thriving Teens Project at the NYU Child Study Center.
“Though media and peers play a role, parental influence is critical and there are ways parents can maximize that influence to reduce the likelihood that their children will engage in binge drinking.”
Dr. Gallagher offers these tips for parents:
TIP 1: Clearly state what actions you expect your teen to take when confronted with substance use. Teens who know what their parents expect from them are much less likely to use substances, including alcohol.
TIP 2: Talk about the alcohol use that your children observe. Parents need to make it clear how they want their children to handle substances, such as alcohol and tobacco. Children need to have controlled exposure to learn the rules of acceptable use.
TIP 3: Help your teen find leisure activities and places for leisure activities that are substance-free. Then, keep track of where, with whom, and what your teen is doing after school and during other free times.
TIP 4: Limit the access your children have to substances. Teens use substances that are available. They report that they sneak alcohol from home stocks, take cigarettes from relatives, and obtain marijuana from people that they know well.
TIP 5: Inform teens about the honest dangers that are associated with alcohol use and abuse. Although teens are not highly influenced by such information, some discussion of negative consequences has some impact on the decisions they make.
Especially emphasize how alcohol clouds one’s judgment and makes one more likely to be harmed in other ways.