Sunday, October 15, 2006

Survey Finds Parents Ignorance

Survey Finds Parental Ignorance – a recent Boston Globe headline for a story about kids and drug use.

The article reported on survey findings of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University: A third of 12- to 17-year-olds, and almost half of 17-year-olds surveyed, had attended parties where drugs, including alcohol, were available, even though parents were home.

The Globe reported that the statistics suggest that parents are ignorant of what goes on at their kids’ parties.

Ignorant or in denial?

My friend Kim is a well-respected researcher about family issues, and is the mother of two teenagers. She says a lot of parents are clueless about what their kids are doing. Others turn a blind eye. “It blows my mind,” she says, “If they acknowledge it, they have to do something about it, and they don’t want to deal with it.”

As Dr. Brian Johnson of Harvard Medical School explains, “Denial is a defense mechanism,” he says. “When something is frightening, like knowing your child is behaving in an unsafe way, you decide not to think about it. You tell yourself it will be all right. But kids’ drinking (and drugging) is Russian Roulette.”

I’ve talked with a lot of parents who’ve indulged that denial and paid a big price. Ashley’s son, Robert, was seriously injured in a drinking and driving crash. She says in our booklet Words Can Work: When Talking About Alcohol, “It’s hard to think my child might be doing this. Most people want to sweep it under the rug.”

Sweeping it under the rug is easier until something bad happens. Life can be changed in a flash, and then you live with a million regrets.

Read more from Robert and watch video clips from his parents:

Resources
Alcohol: True Stories Hosted by Matt Damon
Words Can Work: When Talking About Alcohol

Related Issues and Answers columns
A community takes action
Drinking and sexual risks
Peer pressure
Schools take action
Underage drinking

Related columns for young people

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