Teens who drink with adult supervision have more drinking-related problems than their peers whose parents don’t allow them to drink, a new study shows. Researchers at the University of Washington studied 1,945 teenagers from Washington state and Australia. They chose to include teens from both the U.S. and Australia because the two countries have different attitudes about teens and drinking, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.
While the U.S. Surgeon General recently issued a call to action promoting a zero-tolerance position toward youth alcohol use, in Australia surveys indicate that 30 percent to 50 percent of teen drinkers get alcohol from their parents, the researchers note in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
The study found that by ninth grade, 71 percent of Australian teens and 45 percent of U.S. teens used alcohol. More than a third (36 percent) of Australian students reported having experienced harmful consequences resulting from alcohol use, compared with 21 percent of U.S. teens.
“Providing opportunities for drinking in supervised contexts did not inhibit alcohol use or harmful use in either state,” the researchers wrote. They recommend that policies should not encourage parents to drink with their children and parents should not allow their children to drink under their supervision.
“Findings challenge the harm-minimization position that supervised alcohol use or early-age alcohol use will reduce the development of adolescent alcohol problems,” the researchers wrote.