Knowing the Facts

Kids and alcohol don’t mix

Make no mistake: tweens are exposed to alcohol, and they are curious about it. Before they are presented with the option to drink or not drink, it is crucial to arm them with the information they need to make the right decisions. Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix provides you with information and practical tips on how to talk to teens about alcohol. They need to know that not only does alcohol affect their developing brains, but it’s also illegal to consume before the age of 21. It is important to have these conversations early and often, building a strong relationship with your teen so the conversations about responsibility continue as they grow up.

Our report, A Lifetime of Conversations: Kids, Alcohol, and the Developing Brain shows that most parents (76%) have spoken to their kids at least once in the past year about alcohol consumption, but more than 40 percent do not list the impact on brain development or the long-term effects of alcohol when having these discussions.

The Facts

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Conversations among parents and kids about underage drinking have increased 73 percent since 2003. (, Toluna, August 2016)

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76 percent of parents have talked to their kids at least once in the past year about alcohol consumption. (Lifetime of Conversations, November 2018)

Statistics About Kids and Underage Drinking

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Older teens are more likely to report drinking in the past month – 1 percent of 12-year-olds compared to 23 percent of 17-year-olds (30 percent of 18-year-olds). (2015 NSDUH, September 2016)

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According to the 2016 Monitoring the Future study, 23 percent of 8th graders have tried alcohol at least once in their lifetime and nine percent report they have been drunk.

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Also, in the 2016 Monitoring the Future study, 53 percent of 8th grade students think it is “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get alcohol. (2016 Monitoring the Future, December 2016)

Parents Are The Leading Influence

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Fifty-eight percent of parents feel comfortable or confident in approaching their kids to discuss underage drinking.  (Lifetime of Conversations, November 2018)

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Among 10-18 year olds, seven percent report in the past year they “never” had a conversation with their parents about the dangers of alcohol. (Toluna, August 2016) (nine percent if never and don’t know combined)

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Forty-six percent of parents say they need information on the health effects of underage drinking to continue to have meaningful conversations about underage drinking. (Toluna, August 2016)

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Sixty-four percent of 10-18 year olds report their parents as the leading influence in their decision about drinking or not drinking alcohol. (Toluna, August 2016)

> Read Next Making Healthy Choices

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