Just like The Partnership at Drugfree.org, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is dedicated to combatting underage drinking and partners with all sectors of the community including beverage alcohol retailers, law enforcement, judges, public officials, educators, insurers, health care professionals, government agencies, and advocacy organizations in this important fight to advance policies and programs to help eliminate underage drinking. The more we know about parent and teen attitudes and their perceptions about alcohol and underage drinking the better prepared we are in the fight to reduce underage drinking. However, data presented in the just released 2012 Partnership Attitude Tracking (PAT) Study sponsored by the MetLife Foundation and The Partnership at Drugfree.org is concerning as it does not track with any of the other national government surveys which show declining trends in underage drinking.
According to the 2012 Monitoring the Future Study released in December 2012, underage drinking among teens continued its long-term decline with prevalence rates reaching the lowest levels since the survey began measuring consumption levels. Over the past five years, from 2007 to 2012, significant declines in alcohol consumption among all three grade levels surveyed (8th, 10th, and 12th grades) on most prevalence measures including lifetime, annual, 30-day, daily, and binge drinking. The PAT Study would have the reader believing annual alcohol consumption among teens is rising for the fifth straight year driven by 9th and 10th graders increased alcohol consumption. However, without an explanation of the variances in the data sources the reader and those working to prevent underage drinking could get the wrong message that progress is not being made. Furthermore the PAT Study reports 38% of teens believe their parents “would be okay” with them drinking alcohol on occasion, but the survey, that includes parent data, does not report parents’ attitudes allowing their kids to drink again presenting a misperception of underage drinking in our communities and country.
Both the PAT Study and the Monitoring the Future Study report that a majority of our nation’s youth believe access to alcohol is fairly or very easy. This statistic is unsettling and should sound an alarm to all parents. We know parents by far are the leading influence in kids’ decisions to drink alcohol or not - eight out of ten youth (83%) and parents (89%) said parents are the leading influence in their kid's decision not to drink at all or not to drink on occasion. That is why we encourage parents to talk with their sons and/or daughters early and often about underage drinking, especially the dangers and consequences associated with underage drinking. Join the conversation and talk with your children about underage drinking and give them the information they need to make the right decision.