Friday, April 13, 2012

April is Alcohol Awareness Month


Parents are the Leading Influence in a Kid’s Decision to Not Drink Alcohol

In recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month, The Century Council, the leading national not-for-profit funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, released new survey results today which reveal that parents continue to be the leading influence on their kid’s decisions to not drink alcohol.  Additionally, the survey demonstrates when it comes to talking about underage drinking, kids are actually listening to their parents when they discuss this serious, important, and sometimes awkward topic.

According to the research, parental influence with regard to underage drinking has increased significantly over the past 10 years.  Today, 83% of youth ages 10-18 years old, cite parents as the leading influence in their decision to not drink at all, or not to drink on occasion, which is up 28% proportionally from 2003. Parents rank significantly higher than friends/peers and teachers which tied for second as the leading influence on their decisions about drinking at 33%.  Rounding out the top six influencers are; punishment (28%), brothers and sisters (24%) and law enforcement (23%).

“Contrary to popular belief the survey shows that parents do have a strong influence over their kids when it comes to underage drinking,” said Ralph Blackman, President and CEO of The Century Council.  “Over the last 20 years, The Century Council has produced and provided educational tools and resources to parents, teachers, kids, coaches and other influencers to help make the conversation about underage drinking between parents and kids easier and more effective.

Our Ask, Listen, Learn program is the most widely distributed underage drinking youth educational program of its kind in the country.  While we cannot take sole credit for the improvement in conversations between caregivers and kids over the past nine years, we are thrilled to see the message to say no to underage drinking is resonating with kids.”

Risk of Underage Drinking is Resonating with Kids

Today’s survey indicates significant improvement in the effectiveness of conversations between caregivers and kids on the topic of underage drinking since first examined in 2003. A decade ago, research showed a disconnect between kids and parents on the topic of underage drinking.  In 2003, only 26% of youth reported their parents or grandparents had spoken to them four or more times in the past year about the dangers of drinking alcohol, while 49% of parents reported to have spoken with their children.

According to the new research, parents are talking to their kids about underage drinking and they are listening.  Nearly half of parents surveyed (46%), reported talking with their 10-18 year-old son or daughter four or more times in the past year about the dangers of underage drinking, and a nearly equal number (42%) of youth ages 10-18 reported speaking as frequently with their parents, grandparents, or another adult caregiver on the issue.

Underage drinking often becomes a discussion topic when there is an incident that triggers the conversation.  According to the latest study, the top three conversation starters for parents and youth today are:  (1) a tragedy reported in the news (54% parents, 47% kids; (2) something seen on TV or a movie (49% parents, 41% kids) or; (3) someone else getting caught with alcohol or drinking (37% parents, 36% kids).

“Concrete real world examples of problem drinking behavior are excellent places for parents to start a conversation with their kid about drinking. But with or without the perfect lead in, honest discussion of the negative consequences of underage drinking and the benefits of a healthy life style need to happen often and early,” said Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D. clinical psychologist and bestselling author of “I’d Listen to My Parents if They’d Just Shut Up” and “Get Out of My Life, but First Could you Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall?”

Additional conversation starters to help parents approach the topic of underage drinking as reported by parents include: curiosity about alcohol (35%); learning to drive/driving the car (34%) and; going to a party or other social outing (33%).  Additional topics youth identify as a trigger to get them and their parents talking about underage drinking are: curiosity about alcohol (31%); going to a party or other social activity (30%); information from school (27%); and curiosity about whether you have friends who are drinking (28%).

Visit and to learn about other activities through the month of April and beyond as we place focus on National Alcohol Awareness Month and continue the work to keep our nation’s youth safe and alcohol free.

The Century Council

The Century Council, is a national not-for-profit leader in the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Beam, Inc.; Brown-Forman; Constellation Brands, Inc.; DIAGEO; Hood River Distillers, Inc.; and Pernod Ricard USA. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, The Century Council promotes responsible decision making regarding beverage alcohol and develops and implements innovative programs and public awareness campaigns which ignite action through strategic partnerships. Established in 1991, The Century Council’s initiatives are highlighted on its website at and

About the research

The Century Council contracted Toluna to conduct an online survey of 10-18 year olds and parents of 10-18 year olds living in the same household.  Using one of Toluna’s demographically diverse panels, the survey matched parents of 10-18 year olds and their age appropriate son or daughter at the same time.  A nationally representative sample of 509 parents and 10-18 years was completed February 15-16, 2012.  Toluna is the world’s leading independent online panel and survey technology provider to the global market research industry.  The margin of error among the national sample is + 4.3%.
TRU conducted the May 2003 research among 10-18 year olds and Wirthlin Worldwide (now Harris Interactive) conducted the parent research utilizing their April and May 2003 National Quorum surveys.

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