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Highly monitored teens less likely to drink: parental engagement matters.

WASHINGTON -- Parental monitoring has a significant, long-term protective effect against teen drinking, Jennifer R. Boyle said at the annual meeting of the Society for Prevention Research.

Ms. Boyle and her associates studied a group of 406 adolescents aged 12-17 years. The young people were first surveyed while they were waiting for a health care appointment at their health maintenance organization.

Follow-up questions were asked by telephone 6 months and 12 months after the baseline interview, according to Ms. Boyle, who is a faculty research assistant at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Baseline parental monitoring was measured with a six-item scale. Sample items were: "My parents know where I am after school," "My parents know where I am when I go out at night," and "My parents expect me to phone home to let them know if I am going to be late."

The participating teenagers reported whether their parents had that knowledge all the time, most of the time, sometimes, or never.

Teens were classified as being highly monitored if they answered "most of the time" or "all the time" on all six items; they were classified as being less monitored if they answered "sometimes" or "never" on even one item.

Of the young people who participated in the study, 56% were female, and 79% were African American.

Sixty-one percent of the young people reported that they were highly monitored.

At baseline, 16% of the adolescents reported that they had been drinking in the past 30 days. Fifty-three percent said they had been in at least one risk situation in the past 30 days, which included seeing other young people drink, being somewhere where adolescent drinking was going on, or hanging out with friends who were drinking.

Seventeen percent reported being a passenger in a car driven by a drinker. And 31% of the teens reported that they had gone to places their parents did not want them to go.

The percentage of drinkers increased with time. At 6 months, 24% of participants said they had drunk alcohol in the past 30 days. At 12 months, that figure had increased to 30%.

Analysis of the teens' answers to questions at the 6-month follow-up showed that adolescents who reported drinking at baseline were 7.5 times more likely than others to report drinking within the past 30 days.

Other factors that predicted drinking at 6 months were tiding in a car with a drinking driver, going to forbidden places, being in one or more risk situations, and being older.

Parental monitoring did not have an effect at the 6-month follow-up. However, at the 12-month follow-up, those teenagers who were highly monitored were half as likely as others to have drunk alcohol within the past 30 days, Ms. Boyle said.

The same factors predicted drinking at the 12-month follow-up as at 6 months, she added.

One of the study's significant limitations is that it measured parental monitoring only at baseline.

As a result, it is not possible to know whether parents continued to monitor their children or whether the protective effects of parental monitoring persisted for 12 months, she noted.

It is also difficult to determine why parental monitoring proved not to be protective at the 6-month follow-up, Ms. Boyle added.
Adolescents Who
Reported Recent Drinking

At baseline 16%
At 6 months 24%
At 12 months 30%
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Title Annotation:Child/Adolescent Psychiatry
Author:Kubetin, Sally Koch
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Previous Article:Groups seek to raise awareness on depression: high school students targeted.
Next Article:Parental involvement in school cuts substance use: monitoring the future study.

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