New Study Reveals Complexity of Teen Drinking
According to a recent study by Mason researchers David Anderson and Hugh Gusterson, teens are clearly receiving the message to not drink and drive. But they don’t understand the dangerous impact that consuming large amounts of alcohol can have on their growing bodies.
The study “Understanding Teen Drinking Cultures in America” reveals that culture plays the biggest role in teen drinking and aims to help parents, community leaders and schools develop strategies that will effectively reduce the rate of teen alcohol consumption.
The research found that teens typically begin drinking in high school and view the experience as an important rite of passage to adulthood. Getting alcohol from older youths, most notably older siblings, teens reported consuming the most alcohol at parties, very often with the intention of drinking to get drunk.
Especially alarming is that teens view the act of drinking as the focal point of most social gatherings and usually do it without the knowledge of adults.
Although it was determined that parents and community members play an important role in communicating with teens about risky alcohol-related behaviors, research shows that many parents underestimated how much teens drink and at what age they started drinking.
School officials and teens themselves agreed that alcohol awareness programs at school are ineffective and lack a consistent focus and that there is too much discrepancy between what teens are told about alcohol in schools and their own personal experiences.
“Although extensive research demonstrates the complexity of why teens drink, there is a lack of comprehensive attention to understanding this behavior,” says Anderson.
“Investigating a variety of teen drinking cultures – including teens’ earliest experiences, patterns of alcohol consumption and the messages they may or may not get about alcohol from peers, parents, community leaders and others – gives special insight into how to tackle what is becoming an increasingly difficult problem in communities across the country.”
More information about the study can be found here.