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Monday, May 24, 2010

R Rated Movies Push Middle Schoolers Towards Drinking

Here's a Monday morning OMG for you.

A new study out of Dartmouth, building on other work, shows that middle school students who watch R-rated movies are more likely to start drinking young.

Students from 15 northern New England middle schools were surveyed. At the time of the initial interview the students had never tried alcohol.

The data is pretty compelling. The study found that:

2.9% of kids who had never watched R-rated movies started drinking
12.5 who watched them once in awhile started drinking
18.8 who watched them sometimes drank
24.5% of those who watched them all the time drank

Why? Kids want to do what they see, explained Dr. Susanne Tanski, lead author of the study. The study, which was published in the May issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, is part of a larger body of research at Dartmouth Medical School that examines whether movies influence adolescent behavior.

The study, which was published in the May issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, is part of a larger body of research at Dartmouth Medical School that examines whether movies influence adolescent behavior.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Parents Believe Kids are Drinking "But Not Mine!"

"Parents are assuming that other parents are letting their kids drink, but they don't think that their own child is drinking," said Kerri MacLaury, program manager for Southshire Partnership for a Healthy Community in Vermont. "There's an obvious perception gap that ‘my kid never drinks, but so many other kids are drinking.'"

MacLaury's remarks are related to The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a federal government research tool used by states to assess how much drinking is going on in their schools. Survey results concerning teenage alcohol use, were completed by more than 200 parents of teens in Southwestern Vermont. Here are some of the highlights:

High percentage of parents don't think their child is drinking - 83 percent of parents with children in middle school and 65 percent of those with children in high school answered that their child had not consumed alcohol in the past year.

But parents do think other kids are drinking. Just 11 percent of middle school parents and 2 percent of high school parents said they thought most students the same age hadn't drunk alcohol in that time.

Students said actual drinking is contradictory to what parents thought. Thirty six percent of Vermont students saying they drank alcohol in the previous 30 days on the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

So this is only a microcosm of the entire nation but it does emphasize a persistent trend that there is a lack of clear and honest communication between kids and parents about alcohol use.

I hate to sound like a broken record but talk to your kids about alcohol as young as you can and keep the conversation going.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is My Child Drinking?

There are multiple warning signs that your child may be developing a problem with alcohol. Many of these could also be signs of other things. But if you see several signs it's time to learn more.

Here are a few signs to watch out for:

Your teen becomes more argumentative – Have you noticed that one minute your child is happy and giddy, then becomes withdrawn, depressed, or explodes into fits of anger or rage? This type of volatility can be a sign that he is altering his mood with substances. Be particularly wary of manic behavior and then depression. Then again, it could just be hormones.

Your teen stays in his room a lot – If your child is drunk or on drugs at home, or sneaking alcohol, he will be scared you’ll find out. This means when he’s using, he’ll avoid you by remaining in a place where you don’t usually go. His room is a sanctuary where he can be high or drunk in private. It doesn't hurt to knock on the door and see what happens.

Your teen’s sleep patterns change – You know your child better than anyone. Many teens stay up and sleep late. A sudden shift can be a sign of substance abuse. It could also be that teens' sleeping patterns are mystifying.

Your teen has a new group of friends – Adolescents who drink often seek out others that can help them obtain alcohol or start attending parties where they can find it. Some kids move from group to group to hide their drinking from everyone.This a big warning sign - if your kid changes crowds this could be why. A number of alcoholics I interviewed for this book said they changed their friends so they could be around kids who had alcohol.

Your teen’s grades decline – If your child’s grades suddenly decline it could be a big red flag something is wrong. Again adults who had drinking problems told us their grades started slipping and then tanked.

Your teen asks for money without a good explanation – If your child recently started asking for more spending money, or cash starts disappearing from the house? That could be an indication of alcohol purchases. It could also be an indication that he's dating.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Summer's Coming and With It Can Come Binge Drinking

Spring break is over and summer is just a couple of months away. With time on their hands many kids drink – and adolescents who usually don’t have a lot of experience with alcohol often end up drinking too much.

Here’s some data from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) that can help you tell your kids why binge drinking is really dangerous.

Alcohol-related consequences for college students between the ages of 18-24:

Death: 1,700 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes
Injury: 599,000 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol
Assault: More than 696,000 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking
Sexual Abuse: More than 97,000 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape
Unsafe Sex: 400,000 have unprotected sex and more than 100,000 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex
Academic Problems: About 25 percent of students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall
Health Problems/Suicide Attempts: More than 150,000 develop an alcohol-related health problem

If the data doesn’t do it for them here are some videos from around the world that drive the point home. Unfortunately, Blogger's linking tool is not working once again. If you want to watch these you'll have to cut and paste the URLs into your browser. I've checked all and they do work.