Report Parental Inattention to their Important 'Rites of Passage'
has a High Price Tag
study ties teen transitions to alcohol and drug use,
sexual behavior, driving habits, and mental health
Dec. 16, 2005 -- Almost half of America's high school teens report
parental inattention to what they consider to be key transitions
during their adolescence, according to a new SADD/Liberty Mutual
study released today. The study suggests that this lack of timely
parental involvement in important "rites of passage" comes
with a high price tag: the potential for dangerous behaviors that
can lead to illness, injury, or death as teens seek alternative
milestones to demonstrate growing maturity and independence.
sixth annual Teens Today report reveals that high school teens whose
parents pay the least attention to significant transition periods
(42 percent), such as puberty, school change, and key birthdays,
are more likely than teens whose parents pay the most attention
(18 percent) to engage in high-risk behaviors, including drinking,
drug use, early sexual intercourse, and dangerous driving. They
are more than twice as likely to report daily stress and appear
to be twice as likely to report being depressed and bored.
a culture largely devoid of formal 'rites of passage,' and too often
unobservant of the few that exist, young people may make up their
own. Far too frequently they include drinking, drugging, and other
potentially destructive behaviors," said Stephen Wallace, chairman
and chief executive officer of the national SADD organization. "By
paying attention to the important transitions of adolescence, parents
can make it less likely that poor choices will become their child's
self-constructed mileposts along the path to adulthood."
important transitions cited by teens included receiving a driver's
license, obtaining their first car, graduating from high school,
and dating a first boyfriend or girlfriend.
Drugs and Sex
in the ninth through 12th grades who report high levels of parental
attention (defined as communicating about and recognizing or celebrating
important adolescent "life events") are significantly
less likely than those who report low levels of parental attention
to use alcohol and marijuana or to have ever illegally used prescription
data also shows that these teens are more likely to delay sexual
intercourse and some other sexual behaviors.
Behind the Wheel
Teens Today research highlights the effect of parental attention
on another significant teen rite of passage: driving. Teen drivers
who report high levels of parental attention are significantly more
likely than those who report low levels of parental attention to
say they never speed (45 percent to 14 percent). The data also suggests
that these teens are more likely to wear seat belts while driving
and are less likely to drive while impaired or to ride in a car
with an impaired driver.
is clear from this exciting new research that adequately noting
the important times in their children's lives - such as the transition
to driving age - is a necessary, and potentially life-saving, exercise,"
said Paul Condrin, Liberty Mutual executive vice president, Personal
Market. "Motor vehicle crashes are the number-one killer of
young people ages 15 to 20 in this country, and a large number of
these deaths - 38 percent of males and 25 percent of females - involve
speeding," he added, citing 2004 statistics from the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
in the low parental attention category appear to be more than twice
as likely to report regularly feeling stressed, depressed, and bored.
Conversely, teens in the high parental attention category are significantly
more likely to say they feel happy every day or almost every day.
culture has been largely stripped of the formal demarcations of
significant life changes that marked passage for earlier generations
and still form the basis for transition and celebration in other
cultures. Seeking affirmation of growth and movement toward maturity,
many young people then create their own demarcations involving alcohol
and other drug use, early and intimate sexual behavior, and dangerous
driving - traditions that leave them at risk.
This Is Important for Families
Today research makes clear the incredibly influential role that
parents can play in guiding their teenage children toward safe,
healthy choices. SADD and Liberty Mutual provide tools to help parents
in this cause: Three Tips for Teen Transitions and Guidelines for
Good Family Communication are available at www.sadd.org and www.libertymutualinsurance.com.
Additional key findings from this year's Teens Today study also
are available online.
Research and Consulting, a division of FIND/SVP, conducted in-depth
interviews with teens in Phoenix and focus groups and in-depth interviews
in Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Houston, and Miami. The findings
in the report are based on the completion of 1,968 online interviews
(984 parents and a corresponding teenager for each parent). Survey
results for each group (teen and parent) can be interpreted at a
95% confidence interval with +/- 3% error margin. Analyses of survey
subgroups are subject to wider error margins. Percentages in the
report may add to more or less than 100% due to rounding error or
occasions when multiple response answers were accepted. Minor statistical
weighting was applied to the teen data.
Inc. (Students Against Destructive Decisions) is the nation's preeminent
peer-to-peer youth education organization, with thousands of chapters
in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. With a mission of
preventing destructive behaviors and addressing attitudes that are
harmful to young people, SADD sponsors programs that address issues
such as underage drinking, substance abuse, impaired driving, and
teen violence, depression, and suicide.
Mutual Group is a leading global multi-line group of insurance companies
whose largest line of business is private passenger auto, based
on 2004 net written premium. "Helping people live safer, more
secure lives" since 1912, Liberty Mutual is the eighth-largest
personal lines writer and fifth-largest commercial lines writer
in the U.S., based on 2004 direct written premium.