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drinks in the past 2 weeks, one in five youth (20 percent) reported having done so at least once.

While the majority of parents (56 percent) in the Maine Survey reported having serious talks about alcohol with their child several times a year, only slightly more than a third (34.2 percent) said that they had these discussions once a month or more. Not surprisingly, drinking and driving was the most common topic discussed, with 71 percent of parents reporting that they discussed this issue. Other primary topics, though less common, included the effects of alcohol on judgment or decision making (50.7 percent), peer pressure (48.9 percent), negative medical effects of alcohol (34.9 percent), and parental feelings about underage drinking (34.1 percent).

Clearly, many parents do not know when their children are drinking. However, even if the parents know their children are drinking, there is a question of whether they see underage alcohol consumption as risky. The evidence concerning whether or not parents perceive risks in underage drinking comes from the study by CASA (2002). In Table 6-3, we present the proportion of adult respondents who indicated that each of the named consequences of underage drinking was a concern.

There are two ways to read Table 6-3. One perspective notes that a majority of adults recognize every potential risk as a matter of concern. This is reinforced by the finding that, at most, only 14 percent of the respondents indicated that any of the potential consequences was not a concern at all. This view emphasizes that people recognize the risks. An alternative perspective notes the minimal discrimination among the various consequences. This lack of discrimination among consequences suggests

TABLE 6-3 Adult Reports of Concern for Potential Consequences of Underage Drinking (in percent) (N = 900)

 

Level of Concern

Potential Consequence

Very Much

Somewhat

Not at All

Delinquency or criminal behavior

64

30

6

Risk of sexual behavior

64

28

8

Risk of developing alcoholism or dependence

62

31

8

Gateway to illicit drug use

57

28

14

Physical health

55

36

9

Emotional or social consequences

54

37

9

Financial cost to society

53

39

8

Academic or work problems

53

38

10

 

SOURCE: Data from Roper Center at the University of Connecticut (2003b).



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