Data collected from the 2008 Illinois Youth Survey indicated 53% of local high school seniors reported drinking alcohol in the last month, while 34% reported consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting within the last two weeks. Due to the fact alcohol consumption during development has proven to have significant short and long-term consequences on the body, this data was concerning. As a result, the BNCCC expanded its mission to include reducing alcohol use among local high school students.
Research shows parents are the most important influence over a teen’s decision to not drink alcohol. In response to this information, the group BN Parents was formed in 2012, to provide parents with the tools and resources to talk with their teens about alcohol.
Since its formation, BN Parents has made use of multiple strategies to reach parents of high school students in the community, such as maintaining a website (www.bnparents.org) and Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/BNParents) to provide tips and resources to parents. The group has also partnered with schools and other businesses within the community to share its messaging. The most recent campaign, titled “Because I Love You…”, was introduced in the beginning of the 2013 school year.
Beginning in January of 2014, BN Parents sought to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts. A brief five question student feedback form was developed and offered to students during their lunch hours. Due to pre-established partnerships, BN Parents was able to collect 690 student responses from five local high schools.
The results, when compared to initial data provided from the 2008 Illinois Youth Survey, indicate there has been a significant increase in the number of parents who have talked with their teens about alcohol. While 2008 data indicated 52% of parents had talked to their teen about alcohol, data collected by BN Parents in 2014 indicates 73% of students report their parents talked to them about alcohol. If self-reports are accurate, this means there has been a 21% increase in these conversations since the BNCCC expanded its efforts and formed BN Parents.
Student feedback results also highlight the effectiveness of parent to teen conversations about alcohol in relation to teen alcohol use. When students were asked if they felt better prepared to handle situations where alcohol might be present as a result of conversations with their parents, 69% indicated yes. Additionally, when teens were asked to provide suggestions regarding what their parents or school could do to support them in not drinking alcohol, many students indicated that they wanted their parents to talk to them about alcohol and to not just mention it.
Both the BNCCC and BN Parents are encouraged by these findings. More parents are having conversations with their teens about alcohol, and these conversations are assisting them in making the decision to abstain from alcohol use.