Parents across Chicago are being urged to model responsible use of alcohol in front of their children during the holidays. The recommendation comes from organizers of a new campaign to prevent underage drinking focused on 8th through 10th graders, and reflects data suggesting that parental use of alcohol is a significant factor in alcohol use among teens.
According to data reported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “having a parent with a drinking problem increases a child’s risk for developing an alcohol problem of his or her own.” Further, NIAAA reports that “family policies about adolescent drinking in the home and the way parents themselves drink are important. For instance, if you choose to drink, always model responsible alcohol consumption.”
The focus on parental behavior during the holidays anticipates the launch of new advertising in January 2018 to prevent underage drinking among Chicago youth. The ads are part of a campaign led by Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Preventing Alcohol Abuse in Chicago Youth (PAACT), a coalition of 15 community-based nonprofits and government agencies across the city. The campaign is being funded by a grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services.
“Our research shows that 57 percent of Chicago parents say it is ‘extremely important’ to watch their drinking in front of their children,” said Rebecca Levin, Strategic Director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Lurie Children’s and PAACT co-chairperson. “While that number is high, it could be higher. And we want to encourage all parents to be mindful of how their use of alcohol influences their children.”
Campaign organizers point to data from the Illinois Youth Survey, conducted every two years by the Illinois Department of Human Services, which shows that most teens are not drinking alcohol, contrary to the common misperception about teen behavior.
“The truth is most Chicago teens are not drinking alcohol,” said Vanessa Sanchez, Program Manager for Prevention Services at Youth Outreach Services and PAACT co-chairperson. “This is good news, but we need to make sure that stays true. And parents play a key role in that not just in what they say, but what they do.”
During the holidays, parents are urged to limit their own alcohol consumption in front of their children and to refrain from glorifying their own abuse of alcohol or abuse by others.