The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 29, 2009

Do parents contribute to teen drinking?

Why do Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) students drink more than their peers in surrounding towns and more than the state average? Where do they get the alcohol they drink? Kathy Bowen, Health Coordinator for K-12 in the Concord Public School and CCHS, asked these questions when she spoke last week about the Youth Risk Behavior Survey results.

The survey found that 46% of CCHS students had at least one alcoholic drink during the month before they took the survey. This included 28% of freshmen, 41% of sophomores, 55% or juniors and 64% of seniors. Perhaps more troubling were the statistics for binge drinking, defined as having five alcoholic drinks within a couple of hours. Increasing in each class, from 14% of freshmen to 43% of seniors engaged in binge drinking during the month prior to taking the survey. Overall, over 330 students, or almost 30% of the CCHS population are drinking this heavily.

Where do students get alcohol? Almost 400 students said that during the prior year they had attended local parties in homes where alcohol use by teens was allowed. This issue was discussed at the Concord-Carlisle Parents Association Meeting on Tuesday, May 19, where questions included: How can these statistics be lowered if drinking is condoned by parents? Bowen pointed out that it is illegal to give alcohol to anyone underage besides your own child.

Bowen mentioned several reasons to stop underage drinking. While it is well known that alcohol impairs judgment, it may be less well known that alcohol limits brain growth, and brains are still forming until the age of 21 to 25. The survey results also found that students who drink are much more likely to be engaged in other risky behavior such as using drugs and having sex. Bowen stressed, “We want to postpone the age that students start drinking alcohol.”

The Healthy Community Committee, recently formed at CCHS, is composed of parents, students, administrators and others. Parents said kids look for guidance and “need parents to be parents.” If parents condone unhealthy behavior and serve as poor role models, how are kids going to act any better? Bowen recommended talking with your children and explaining the risks of drinking alcohol. She said, “If we can intervene sooner, it makes a difference.”

More discussion ensued on where students drink. Cathy Galligan, parent of a senior, advised, “Don’t leave kids home alone on weekends.” In addition, parents were encouraged to always ask where their kids are going, particularly on weekend nights. Several talked about calling the parents where kids were headed to make sure they would be at home.

The survey is available online at: ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito