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Harris Interactive Survey of Parents

• Forty-six percent of adults believed that teens should not be allowed to drink under any circumstances. Seven of 10 parents of children 12 to 20 years old disapprove of underage drinking.

• Three of four parents think that teens obtain alcohol with parental knowledge and/or permission.

• One of four parents with children 12 to 20 years old have thought that teens should be able to drink at home with a parent present.

• One parent of four indicated that they allow their teens to drink under their supervision. One parent of every two has served his or her teenager's friends an alcoholic beverage in his or her home under parental supervision.

• One parent of 10 believes that it is acceptable to have graduation or prom parties in high school where alcohol is served, if parents are present to supervise the party.

Survey of Teens

• Nearly half of all teens surveyed reported having obtained alcohol somewhere at some point in time.

• Two to three teens say it is easy to obtain alcohol from their parents without their parents knowing it.

• One third of the teens surveyed said that they can get alcohol from their own parents. One of five teenagers reported that he or she could get alcohol from their friend's parents.

Source: Adapted from Grand, L. (2004). Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Ontario, Canada.

The downside of allowing the teen to drink at home or hosting a "key party" is that parents are sending a dangerous message that obeying the law is an option and not a mandate. By allowing such parties, parents are risking not only their own welfare but also their children's by conveying the message that it is okay to drink alcohol under the legal age.

If you are hosting a teen party, make your policies about no drugs and no alcohol clear to your children up front. Ask them to inform all potential guests. Invite an open discussion.

Help your teen plan the party. Develop an invitation list and invite only a specific number of people. Avoid "open" parties, and turn away uninvited guests. Invitations should be personal and not sent by e-mail. Put your phone number on the invitation, and invite other parents to call you. Include directions about parking. Set the rules ahead of time: no alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. Establish a starting and an ending time. Provide the refreshments; plan them with your teenager. Let guests know that if they leave the party, they may not return. If they arrive at your house intoxicated or with alcohol or drugs, inform them that you will call their parents or the police. Plan activities such as music, games, movies, and Karaoke in advance. Avoid dangerous activities, such as skateboarding. Let the neighbors know ahead of time that there will be a party. Reassure them that you will be there to supervise. Make regular and unobtrusive visits to the room where the party is taking place. Invite other parents to help chaperone, especially when a large number of teenagers will be present. Provide an atmosphere in which teens can have fun without alcohol or drugs. If your child has been invited to a teen party, call the parents to find out about their plans for the party. Volunteer to help chaperone the party. Share your concerns with the parents. Tell your teenager that you will be available so that if the party is not alcohol or drug free, you are just a phone call away. Reassure teenagers that you want them to have fun but that more importantly your main concern is safety. Parents' first responsibility is to ensure that their children are safe.

Today, women represent a growing number of drinkers who either have alcohol problems or are dependent on alcohol.

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