Health

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Underage Drinking: European Parents May Know Best

June 27, 2008 08:57 AM
by Liz Colville
Some experts suggest that American parents should take a lesson from Southern Europe and give their underage kids alcohol to remove its taboo.

30-Second Summary

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European teenagers’ familiarity with alcohol use, driven by a culture of “moderate, supervised drinking within families” and lower legal drinking ages, is an increasingly attractive model for American parents, writes John Cloud in Time magazine.

Cloud outlines research on alcohol consumption in the United States that suggests that teenage drinking has fallen in recent decades, though binge drinking rates continue to fluctuate. At the same time, “social host” laws that places responsibility with over-21s for underage drinking that occurs at their home have gained momentum in more than 20 states and 100 local jurisdictions.

The key is desensitizing kids to alcohol, addiction expert Stanton Peele told Time. “Making hard-and-fast rules creates the sense that alcohol is some magical potion.”

Car accidents remain the number-one killer of American teen, while in Europe drunk driving accidents are more common among people in their mid-20s.

Another element of parenting style, academic performance, has been shown in many studies to be enhanced by “authoritative” parenting and stymied by “authoritarian” parenting, particularly among American and European families.

Headline Link: ‘Should You Drink with Your Kids?’

Background: Teen drinking in the U.S. and Europe

Related Topic: Authoritarian parenting and academic performance

Reference: Impaired driving statistics from the CDC

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