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5/21/2013 - Teens say parents have leading influence on views about underage drinking

Teens noted their parents greatly influence their underage drinking views.

Parents with teens may be concerned about their kids and the effects of peer pressure with respect to drinking, especially with this being prom season. But as a recent survey points out, sharing their feelings about underage drinking may have a more significant influence on them than they realize.

According to a new poll released by not-for-profit advocacy organization The Century Council, as many as 83% of today's teens say that the biggest influence on their decisions as to their feelings about alcohol and whether they'll ever drink before they turn 21 is their parents. Though teenagers also said their friends had some sway as well, the overwhelming majority indicated their mom and dad ultimately had the biggest effect.

Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of the Virginia-based anti-drunk driving organization, noted that this study illustrates that parents need to strike up a conversation with their kids about drinking - as they have a bigger impact on them than they may fully appreciate.

"As parents we need to start the discussion about alcohol as early as age 11 and continue having the discussion often throughout middle school, high school and college," said Blackman.

The results of the study largely mirror those that were conducted at this time last year. At that time, eight in 10 teens said their parents more than anyone else affected their opinion and actions in regards to drinking.

Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration routinely sponsor drunk driving awareness programs around this time of year, hoping to diminish the number of auto insurance claims that are filed due to accidents caused by impaired motor vehicle operation. According to MADD, nearly one in every five men and women between 18 and 20 years old say they have driven under the influence of alcohol in the past 12 months.

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