Adult-supervised drinking in teens may up alcohol use

April 29th, 2011 - 6:52 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 29 (ANI): A new study has indicated that allowing adolescents to drink alcohol under adult supervision does not appear to teach responsible drinking, as teens get older.

In fact, such a “harm-minimization” approach may actually lead to more drinking and alcohol-related consequences.

“Kids need parents to be parents and not drinking buddies,” said study’s lead researcher, Barbara J. McMorris, of the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota.

Allowing adolescents to drink with adults present but not when unsupervised may send mixed signals.

“Adults need to be clear about what messages they are sending,” added McMorris.

In general, parents tend to take one of two approaches toward teen drinking. Some allow their adolescent children to consume alcohol in small amounts on occasion if an adult is present.

The thinking is that teens will learn to drink responsibly if introduced to alcohol slowly in a controlled environment. This has been the predominant approach in many countries, including Australia.

A second approach is one of “zero tolerance” for youth drinking, meaning that teens should not be allowed to drink alcohol under any circumstances.

To test how these different approaches are related to teen drinking, McMorris and colleagues from the Centre for Adolescent Health in Melbourne, Australia, and the Social Development Research Group in Seattle surveyed more than 1,900 seventh graders.

About half were from Victoria, Australia; the rest were from Washington State. From seventh to ninth grade, investigators asked the youths about such factors as alcohol use, problems they had as a result of alcohol consumption, and how often had they consumed alcohol with an adult present.

The researchers suggested that allowing adolescents to drink with adults present might act to encourage alcohol consumption. According to the authors, their results suggested that parents adopt a “no-use” policy for young adolescents.

“Kids need black and white messages early on. Such messages will help reinforce limits as teens get older and opportunities to drink increase,” said McMorris.

“Both studies show that parents matter. Despite the fact that peers and friends become important influences as adolescents get older, parents still have a big impact,” she added.

The study has been published in the May 2011 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. (ANI)

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