Maine parents underestimate teen drinking, study says

Posted Sept. 07, 2010, at 9 p.m.

A newly released survey shows that many Maine parents of high school students appear to underestimate their teen’s alcohol use, including the amount they drink.

In a recent statewide phone survey of parents conducted by the Maine Office of Substance Abuse, only 26 percent believed their teenage children had ever had more than a few sips of alcohol. Less than 2 percent believed their child had engaged in binge drinking.

But in the self-reported Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, 65 percent of Maine high school teens said they have had at least one alcoholic drink and more than 20 percent say they have had more than five drinks in a row, defined as binge drinking.

Research shows that parental monitoring is critical in preventing underage alcohol use. In fact, high school students who don’t believe they would be caught by their parents are three times as likely to drink alcohol. The Maine Office of Substance Abuse offers five tips for preventing teen alcohol use through increased parental monitoring:

  • Limit your teen’s access to alcohol. Keep track of what and how much you have in your home, and keep it where it is not accessible to teens.
  • Network with other parents. Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents, and let them know where you stand on underage alcohol use.
  • Enforce your rules consistently. Make sure your teen understands your rules and the consequences if they are broken.
  • Check in often with your teen. Be sure you know how to reach them. Ask them where they’re going, whether anyone will have alcohol and whether adults will be present.
  • Be up and ready when your teen comes home at night. Ask them about their evening and be prepared for what you will say or do if you discover they’ve been drinking.

For more detailed tips and information about how to prevent underage drinking, visit www.maineparents.net or contact OSA toll free at 800-499-0027.

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