December 5, 2021

Youth Survey Shows Parent’s Role in Cortland County Teen Drinking

By: Margaret Broderick, Epidemiologist, CACTC

I want to start this article off by sharing two conclusions we can make from the 2020 Cortland County youth survey of over 1,800 7th-12th grade students:

Most teens (86%) report their family has clear rules about alcohol use

Most teens (89%) DO NOT report accessing alcohol from home with parent permission

Preventing Cortland County teens from drinking alcohol starts at home. Setting clear rules about alcohol use and preventing teens from accessing alcohol at home (with or without permission) are two tangible ways parents can help improve the health and wellness of Cortland County youth. And we have local data to show you why!

Rules—everyone’s doing it!

According to our youth survey (see below graph!) students who report that their family has clear rules about alcohol use were less likely to report drinking at least once, drinking three or more times, or binge drinking in the past month compared to students who reported their families do not have clear rules about alcohol use.

Setting clear rules, and discussing them frequently with your child as early as age 9, is a tangible way that parents here in Cortland County can protect their child from the harmful effects of underage drinking.

You are not alone—as I mentioned before, according to teens, MOST parents are already doing this!

Alcohol Access

Remember conclusion #2 above? That’s right, most teens do not report accessing alcohol from home with parent permission. However, parents still need to be aware that home with permission is the number one reported source of alcohol for youth in Cortland County who have used alcohol in their lifetime (see graph!).

So, even though most parents are not doing it, it is still a concern that any number of students report they are provided alcohol by their parents.

I totally understand that some parents might think their teen is drinking anyway, so they might as well let them do it at home where they are safe. However, studies have shown that there is no protective benefit of parents supplying their teen’s alcohol. Also (exciting news!) most 15 and 16 year olds in Cortland County (76%) actually aren’t using alcohol.

Since we know that parents are the number one place teens are accessing alcohol, you are in a totally unique position to help limit the number of kids who have access. In fact, teens who think it is hard to access alcohol are less likely to report drinking at least once or risky drinking in the past month! Parents, let’s commit to supporting the health and wellness of our local teens and make alcohol access harder for teens here in Cortland County.