Honey, I Served the Kids: Parents Buying Booze for Teens, Study Finds

Filed under: In The News, Alcohol & Drugs, Research Reveals: Teens

teens drinking

Go ahead and party, kids! Mom will bring the beer. Credit: Getty

When today's generation of parents of teens was in high school, booze was locked up in a liquor cabinet, kids were told to stay out of it and parents left education about the dangers of excessive drinking to school programs that touted total abstinence.

Of course, teens ignored the warnings, sneaked in anyway, and sipped off bottles of whiskey and rum.

Now, some parents have a new approach to keeping their kids from getting wasted: They buy the booze for them. This less-than-zero-tolerance approach makes sense, the thinking goes, if you take their car keys away and let the under-aged drinkers chug away on the home front.

At least, that's the finding in a new report that shows among American teens aged 12 to 14 who report drinking alcohol, nearly 30 percent were served by their folks or another adult in the clan, according to a press release from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

About 6 percent of the U.S. population in that age group say they have had at least one alcoholic drink in the last month, the study finds. The statistics were taken from the National Household Surveys on Drug Use and Health, conducted from 2006 to 2009, and involving responses from 44,000 young teens.

"People who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are six times more likely than those who start at age 21 and older to develop alcohol problems," SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hyde says in the release. "Parents and other adults need to be aware that providing alcohol to children can expose them to an increased risk for alcohol abuse and set them on a path with increased potential for addiction."

However, Time magazine reports, when parents drink with their kids "at dinner or in a religious context," research has found an association with lower levels of alcohol problems.

In 2004, according to Time, a study examined data from more than 6,000 people across the country. Teens who drank with their parents were about half as likely to have consumed alcohol in the previous month and about one-third less likely to have engaged in binge drinking in the previous two weeks, compared with teens who drank without parental approval.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.