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Researcher Decries Parental Permissiveness on Drinking

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A Penn State researcher says that parents who let teens drink alcohol may be setting their kids up for binge drinking in college, but the study by Caitlin Abar of the school's Prevention Research and Methodology Center makes no distinction between parents who simply let kids drink some wine during meals and those whose permissiveness extends to drinking outside the home.

Science Daily reported June 11 that Abar surveyed 300 college freshmen and correlated their alcohol use to the drinking rules set down by their parents. Abar found that students whose parents never allowed them to drink were less likely to report heavy drinking in college.

On the other hand, “the greater number of drinks that a parent had set as a limit for the teens, the more often they drank and got drunk in college,” said Abar.

Abar said the research argues in favor of “zero tolerance” for teen drinking and against the theory that parental restrictions on drinking casts alcohol as attractive “forbidden fruit” and leads to greater temptation to drink in college. Whether or not parents themselves drank had little impact on college binge drinking, Abar added.

Thirty-one states allow parents to legally serve alcohol to children under age 21.

The research was presented at the recent annual meeting of the Society for Prevention Research and slated to be published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

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