The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly touched each American family, with massive disruptions to work, school, and social routines. Now entering the third year of the pandemic – with many facets of American life returning to normal – Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) sought to check in with U.S. parents and their teens on topics like alcohol and cannabis consumption, binge drinking, and substance impaired driving through a recent survey. Survey results revealed the need for conversations between parents and teens about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs.
In February 2022, MADD commissioned IPSOS, a global research company, to conduct a nationwide study — a random sample of approximately 1,000 parents and their high school teens ages 15-18.
The survey found parents may be devaluing their role in preventing underage drinking – both their influence on teens’ decision-making and their ability to curb access to alcohol at home – because this topic is not being discussed enough. In fact, of the parents surveyed, half report discussing the potential consequences with their high school teen just one to three times in the past year (39%) or not at all (12%). By contrast, relatively few (13%) are tackling the subject 12 or more times a year, as is recommended by Dr. Turrisi in MADD’s Power of Parents handbook.
The most alarming of the results reveal that a third of parents allow youth access to alcohol according to both teen and parent responses. Of the parents surveyed, one in five (21%) say they allow alcohol consumption from time to time, while a smaller amount (9%) allow it fairly often. About two-thirds (64%) of teens say their parents have not allowed them to consume alcohol, with more having discussed the subject with their parents (36%) versus saying it has not come up (28%). The remainder of teens say their parents have allowed them to consume alcohol – mostly with them (29%) as opposed to without them (8%).
Additional key findings of the report include:
- Teens are less likely to characterize certain behaviors as high risk opposed to parent views on binge drinking and mixing alcohol and marijuana (each six percentage points lower among teens).
- There are large differences between mothers and fathers on perceptions of risk and strong disapproval of behaviors surveyed, with mothers taking a more cautious stance. This gender divide is seen among teen girls vs. boys, as well.
“In addition to talking to their teenagers, it’s equally important for parents to set the example by not allowing underage drinking in their home,” said Alex Otte, MADD National President. “Studies show that when parents allow their high schoolers to have a small glass of wine or a beer on ‘special occasions,’ the teens are likely to drink more often and in greater amounts when they are not with their parents.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year and can lead to early addiction as well as many other dangerous outcomes, including drunk driving. MADD’s Power of Parents program is focused on empowering parents of middle school and high school students to have ongoing, intentional conversations about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking and drug use to combat these statistics. Parents can download free Power of Parents handbooks at madd.org/powerofparents.
“MADD thanks General Motors for their support in funding this important project. We are so grateful for their dedication to our shared mission to stop these tragedies that destroy families and devastate our communities,” Otte said.
“General Motors is proud to have supported MADD as they conducted this research,” said Terry Rhadigan, vice president of Corporate Giving at GM. “We believe the findings in the report will spark important conversations between parents and their children, which will help reduce the occurrence of impaired driving and other unsafe behavior.”
To review the survey results, visit madd.org/reports.
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.
About General Motors
General Motors (NYSE:GM) is a global company focused on advancing an all-electric future that is inclusive and accessible to all. At the heart of this strategy is the Ultium battery platform, which will power everything from mass-market to high-performance vehicles. General Motors, its subsidiaries and its joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Baojun and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety and security services, can be found at https://www.gm.com.