Report: Marin Parents Aligned on Teen Drinking & Substance Use

Perception isn’t reality – Marin survey shows parents share substance use concerns

Has your child ever said “You’re the only parent who thinks that drinking at home is a bad idea”? Now, Marin parents can welcome some hard data to back up their principles. The Marin Prevention Network, a countywide coalition working to curb youth substance use, today released the results of its second Parent Norm Survey, just in time for graduation and summer. The results show that, when it comes to teens and drinking, Marin parents are overwhelmingly on the same page – even though they think the opposite is true.

“We have an untapped resource to help stem youth alcohol and drug use in Marin County – ourselves,” said Linda Henn, a Larkspur parent involved with the Twin Cities Coalition for Healthy Youth. “Our survey results show that, collectively, we care deeply about this issue, and that we set rules for our households to deal with this. But we don’t realize that most other parents are doing this as well – we think the opposite is true. It’s time to build our community based on our shared values – and not remain quiet based on perceived differences.”

The Marin Prevention Network launched the first Parent Norms Survey in 2014 to gauge parent attitudes about substance use among teens. More than 1,446 high school and 1390 middle school parents responded to second online survey, which was given in November, 2016. Similar to the 2014 results, parents are on the same page when it comes to teens and drinking, but they don’t realize it. The vast majority of respondents with high school students are extremely concerned about binge drinking – at a rate of 88%. But only 54% of those respondents think other parents are extremely concerned.

Likewise, 93% of respondents with middle school and 80% with high school students do not allow their children to drink in their homes. But 61% of respondents with middle schoolers and 77% of respondents with high schoolers thought most other parents allow children to drink occasionally in their own homes.

Parent beliefs about marijuana and prescription drug use show similar patterns: 67% of respondents are very concerned about marijuana use; but only 18% think other parents are very concerned; 94% of respondents are very concerned about prescription drug use; but only 58% think other parents are very concerned.

“Parents are key role models for teens; they set the standard in terms of substance use and norms in households,” said Ruby Raye Clarke, a Branson student and member of the Marin Prevention Network. “It is therefore vital that parents understand the substance use culture in not only their own family, but families around them.”

When compared to the results of the bi-annual California Healthy Kids Survey, which surveys students, the Parent Norm Survey also shows a gap between what parents think is happening with their kids and what is actually happening. 86% of high school parents did not think their child had used alcohol in the past 30 days, while 20% of 9th graders and 40% of 11th graders reported using alcohol in the last 30 days.

“There is a great opportunity here to build a stronger community network of parents,” said Matt Willis, Marin County Public Health Officer. “Awareness of these issues are high, and parents are more united than they realize in their desire to keep their kids from drinking and using substances. The community coalitions we have in place can help parents come together and be a strong force for change.”

The Parent Norm Survey showed significant increase in the knowledge of parents who are aware of Marin’s Social Host Ordinances: 64% of respondents with high school students were aware of the Social Host Ordinance, an increase of more than 10% over 2014.

“The Parent Norm Survey shows that most parents share the same concerns about underage drinking, and the same expectations for each other on preventing it,” said Corporal Jenna McVeigh with the Central Marin Police Authority. “The Social Host Ordinance reinforces these values by having a uniform requirement across the county when it comes to hosting parties for young people.  The Social Host Ordinance supports parents to stand by their own values, regardless of pressure from outside influences.”

Other survey results include:

Survey QuestionMiddle SchoolHigh School
How much influence do you think you have over decision whether or not to drink alcohol?68%56%
Have you talked to your child about rules and values around their drinking?Yes: 79%91%
Do you think other Marin parents have talked to their children about rules and values around their drinking?Yes: 68%71%
How much influence do you think you have over your child’s decision whether or not to drink alcohol?A lot: 68%A lot: 56%
How much influence do you think other parents have over their child’s decision whether or not to drink alcohol?A lot: 34%A lot: 22%
To the best of your knowledge, has your child used alcohol during the past 30 days?Yes: 1%

No: 99%

Yes: 14

No: 86

To the best of your knowledge, have the friends of your child used alcohol in the past 30 days?Yes: 4.5%

No: 95.5%

Yes: 44%

No: 56%


About the Marin Prevention Network

MPN is an active collection of community coalitions, law enforcement and public health officials seeking to reduce youth access to alcohol and drugs by creating a community environment that promotes healthy choices and reduces risk. Network members include: Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition; San Rafael ACT; Alcohol Justice; Mill Valley Aware; Ross Valley Healthy Community Collaborative; Twin Cities Coalition for Healthy Youth; West Marin Coalition for Healthy Kids; Be the Influence; Marin County Youth Commission; RxSafe Marin; SmokeFreeMarin; Marin Friday Night Live Network; and Youth Leadership Institute.

For more information about this survey, contact Linda Henn, Twin Cities Coalition for Healthy Youth: 415-533-8366

For more information, or to join a local coalition in your community, visit https://marinpreventionnetwork.org

POSTED: May 26 2017 | Drug Education, General News

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