Study shows 1 in 6 parents allowed teens to drink during pandemic

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- 1 in 6 parents allowed their teens to drink during quarantine. That’s according to a study conducted by the University of Notre Dame and Researcher Sarah Mustillo says while it’s not a huge number it is a significant one.

“We were particularly concerned because these adolescents were younger and so the younger you start letting your child drink the riskier it is," said Mustillo.

The study --- which started before COVID hit --- surveyed families consisting of two siblings ranging from 13 to 15 years old. While initially no parents were sharing alcohol pre- pandemic, Brandon Zabukovic from Primary Care Partners, says the shift to exposure at such a young age can later lead to addiction.

“You may have a child that has a genetic predisposition to addiction but wouldn’t otherwise be exposed at that kind of critical time and then they are allowed to drink and it could just it could just kind of set them down a path that maybe could have some negative side affects that wouldn’t have otherwise happened," said Zabukovic.

While some parents feel the exposure is preventive in creating a safe place for their children to consume Mustillo says there’s no evidence proving the benefits.

“What we find in research is actually the opposite that parents are role models and that parent permissiveness leads to an increase in adolescent binge drinking," said Mustillo.

Both experts say as teens are exposed to drinking in mainstream media on television and in song lyrics it’s up to parents to educate their children on how to consume responsibly.

“You know just sending kids out in the world with never having had any sort of role modeling is particularly dangerous. I think parents need to have those conversations with their children and do show them responsible ways of consuming things including alcohol," said Zabukovic.

This study is the first of several that will continue at the university to further understand how parents and siblings play a role in underage drinking.

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