By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

NEW YORK, June 10, 2008 ( – A new survey released by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the MetLife Foundation has found that parental guidance and example has a profound affect on their children’s use of alcohol and drugs, especially at such “coming-of-age” events as prom and graduation parties.

The survey indicates that when parents engage their children in discussions about alcohol and drug abuse the teens take their parents’ message to heart.

“Only 16 percent of teens whose parents set a zero tolerance policy reported their individual likelihood of using drugs or alcohol, whereas 45 percent of teens whose parents didn’t set such boundaries reported they were likely to drink or use drugs at prom or graduation parties this year,” the report states.

The survey also reveals that parents who had abused alcohol and drugs as teenagers were less likely to instruct their children about the negative effects of this behavior and to set a zero tolerance policy for their teens.

“Parents who drank or used drugs at their own proms or graduation were likely to be more permissive with their kids than those parents who did not. Among parents who drank or used drugs on these occasions, 66 percent set a ‘zero tolerance policy’ for their teens. Among parents who did not drink or use drugs, that number jumps up to 87 percent of parents who set hard rules about drinking and drugs for their kids.”

“Parents can’t let past drug use or personal experiences at their prom parties influence their attitudes toward their kids’ use today,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the Partnership. “The drug abuse landscape teens face today – which includes abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medicines – is drastically different than when today’s parents were teens. We know that parents are the greatest point of leverage in preventing drug and alcohol abuse, and this survey reinforces the fact that kids live up to parents’ expectations as well as down to them.”

The survey addresses the coercion teenagers feel from their peers: “Sixty percent of teens say they feel pressured to use drugs or alcohol ‘always’ or ‘frequently’ at prom or graduation events, and 22 percent of teens surveyed report that they are likely to drink or use drugs at these types of celebrations.”

But again, the research stresses that teens who learn about the risks of drugs at home are 50 percent less likely than their peers to use them, though less than one-third of teens, just 31 percent, say they are getting that message from their parents.

“By talking with their teens often about the dangers of drug abuse, parents can protect their kids and help them live healthy drug-free lives,” said Sibyl Jacobson, president of MetLife Foundation. “These survey findings serve as an important reminder that what parents choose to discuss with their teens can have an impact on the actions their children take.”

“When parents talk, most teens actually do listen. Parents must take the opportunity presented by prom and graduation season to let their teens know drug and alcohol use is both a real risk to their health and also a behavior the family will not condone,” added Steve Pasierb. “Many parents feel overwhelmed and conflicted about setting hard rules about drug and alcohol use, especially if they drank or used drugs as a teen – but they must set clear, non-negotiable rules. We urge parents to not only talk with their kids, but to encourage fellow parents to follow suit and enforce the same rules.”

Another area where parents are strongly encouraged to initiate discussion with their teenagers and give informed guidance to their children is the viewing of pornography, especially over the internet.

Numerous studies have proven the harm and negative consequences of pornography use.

A study that was published in the scientific journal Mind, Medicine and Adolescence (see link below) determined that using pornographic materials leads to several behavioral, psychological and social problems such as sexual aggressiveness, hostility and violence, as well as an increase in sexual crimes, sexual dysfunction and family breakdown.

Last month reported on the Australian bishops’ pastoral letter urging their government to ban pornography. In the letter the bishops urge parents to discuss the dangers of pornography – “its damaging impact on human dignity and on relationships” – with their children, and call for the government to ban such degrading materials.

Similar findings have been published about sexual abstinence education and the positive role parents play in instilling in their children the virtue of chastity, especially those children who are compelled by the education system to be exposed to “comprehensive” sex education – that is, sex-education that teaches about various sexual behaviors and “safe-sex” methods.

Last year, reported on a study that followed the education and behavior of over 400,000 adolescents in 30 different states for 15 years (see

The researched revealed that abstinence education is the most successful method of preventing physical and emotional complications resulting from pre-marital sexual activity. At the same time, however, researchers also found that it was crucial to re-educate adolescents about abstinence each successive year.

This is where parents are advised to pick up the slack and continue to engage their teens in honest and gentle discussion that emphasizes the importance of self-control and responsibility, and offers them the goal of a future life that is not only free of addiction and preventable disease, but built on self-confidence and an intimate respect for themselves.

Read related articles:

Australian Bishops Urge Government to Ban Pornography, “One of the Most Evil Uses of the Internet”

Experts Link New Study on Aggressive Sexual Behavior to Pornography Usage


“Comprehensive” Sex Education is Ineffective: Abstinence Works, Major National Study Shows

Abstinence Works says New Study – Toronto AIDS Conference Silent