The latest survey released by the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future shows teen alcohol consumption is at the lowest level since the study began in 1975. The survey revealed the number of teens who drink alcohol has decreased about 25 percent over the past 20 years with about 54 percent reporting they drank in 1991 and about 40 percent reporting they drank in 2011. Researchers contribute the decrease to the attitude society has toward under-age drinking.
Research shows teens are starting to perceive alcohol consumption as dangerous. Teens are being bombarded with the dangers of operating a motor vehicle after drinking and now understand the health problems drinking too much alcohol can cause. Colleges have also been educating incoming freshman on the dangers associated with binge drinking and strict enforcement of laws pertaining to the sale of alcohol to underage people have made it more difficult for teens to get their hands on alcohol. Teens also report their parents’ attitudes toward under-age drinking have contributed to the decrease.
Teens reported their parents now have higher expectations and stricter consequences when it comes to under-age drinking. Teens are reporting fewer parents support under-age drinking parties and more parents are putting their alcohol in locked cabinets or closets making it more difficult for teens to take it from homes.
Studies have always indicated teens’ perceptions are one of the main factors in whether or not they take risks. The more they believe something to be risky, the less likely they will engage in that activity. The Monitoring the Future survey indicates teens perceive cigarette smoking as being very risky to the health of the smoker as well as non-smokers and the number of teens who smoke continues to decline steadily as well. The survey estimates the number of teens who smoke is as low as six percent.
Researchers said teens used to see a correlation between smoking and drinking alcohol, believing most adults who drink alcohol also smoked. Now, with some states having laws prohibiting smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants, teens now perceive smoking and drinking as socially unacceptable.
Working together to educate teens about the risks associated with under-age drinking and making it more difficult for teens to get alcohol has caused teens to perceive drinking alcohol as unacceptable behavior. We need to continue working together to keep lowering the number of teens who drink and continue to keep our kids safe.
Keeping Our Kids Safe is brought to you by the Delaware Police Department and School Resource Officer Rod Glazer.