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Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility
do not respond to it, or who do not make sure that parties their children attend are alcohol free and properly supervised by adults. Even though adults tend to favor some strong measures to prevent underage drinking, the CASA study suggests that they are least enthusiastic about regulations that would affect them directly: only 60 percent favor restriction on the number of alcohol outlets, and 51 percent favor limitations on outlet days or hours. The reluctance of policy makers to enact alcohol restrictions that might reduce youth use but also affects adult use (such as controlling outlets) presumably reflects, in some part, perception of the lack of public support for such restrictions.
Adults themselves do not think that parents are doing all that they can do to prevent underage drinking. There is substantial recognition by adults that parents are the most important channel of influence on their children’s underage drinking. When asked to choose what was most responsible for “preventing us from effectively reducing underage drinking” more than half of the adult respondents said “lack of or limited parental involvement in teens’ lives” (see Table 6-1). This response indicates that there is another way that adult behavior may support underage drinking in addition to explicit or tacit support for alcohol use, which involves ineffective parenting more generally.
The parenting literature argues that effective parenting includes monitoring and supervising youth behavior. For younger adolescents, this parenting includes such things as: knowing who a child’s friends are, making sure that children are always supervised by adults, knowing what a child’s plans are for the coming day, knowing what children are doing
TABLE 6-1 Adults’ Reports of Barriers to Reducing Underage Drinking (in percent)
Which of (the following) are most responsible for preventing us from effectively reducing underage drinking? (N = 900)
Lack of limited parental involvement in teens’ lives
Ineffective enforcement of current laws or regulations
Lack of effective prevention programs
Insufficient laws or regulations
Lack of effective treatment programs
SOURCE: Data from Roper Center at the University of Connecticut (2003a).