Parents vs. Teens: What the polls suggest on teen substance use

Two different polls studying the use of illegal substances and alcohol among teens showed discrepencies between what parents thought and what the teens were actually reporting. One poll from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan surveyed parents on whether they believed that their children were drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.

According to Medical News Today, 10% of the parents polled believed their teens, ages 13 to 17, drank alcohol within the past year (2010) and 5% of parents believed that their teens smoked marijuana.

But a different poll that surveyed teenagers themselves showed different results. A Monitoring the Future survey found that 52% of 10th graders drank alcohol and 28% percent smoked marijuana during that year in 2010. Monitoring the Future measure the use of alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes among students across the United States.

Research Bernard Biermann, MD, PhD said “There’s a clear mismatch between what parents are reporting in terms of their children’s possible use of substances and what teenagers report themselves.”

The differences in both polls could be due to the lack of communication between parent and teen. Considering that such behavior is frowned upon, let alone illegal, some teenagers find that being honest with their parents about what they do with their friends could be worthy of being grounded or further limitations such as cell phone, Internet, television privileges being taken away. Some parents could also be oblivious to such activity, not knowing what’s going on at all. The poll even suggested that parents believed that teenagers other than their own were the ones drinking alcohol and doing drugs.

Biermann suggests that parents communicate with their teens about the dangers of substance abuse in “a non-threatening way, and look carefully for signs of substance abuse when they come home.” Rather than adding to a potential problem, parents should support their children if a substance abuse problem does arise.

To read the full article click here.

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