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Monday, May 02, 2011

Study: Keep the Kids Away From the Liquor Cabinet

(I'm suffering a little bin Laden fatigue, and since this is my blog, I'm allowed to violate my own rules, like not talking about beer today.)

I have no horse in this race (or kids in the house), but I know studies like this provoke strong reactions. Still, I think it's wise not to dismiss them out of hand.
A new study shows that teens who drink with an adult supervising are more likely to develop problems with alcohol than kids who aren’t allowed to touch the stuff till they hit age 21.
I think we all want the same thing for our successor generations: healthy, happy people who enjoy superb beer in moderation. Since the goal is clear, it's worth being open minded about the method. However, it's also worth noting that the methodology mentioned in the story doesn't seem to be perfectly brilliant. Maybe the actual study was better.

Your thoughts?


  1. I'd like to see a comparison to numbers in countries with lower legal drinking ages. I know that in at least a few places in Europe, bars don't really bother about drinking ages at all. Do they have higher instances of alcoholism? Does it perhaps have something to do with societal attitudes towards alcohol? I'm not sure they've done a good job controlling or understanding their variables.

  2. It seems rather odd to me to compare Australian and American teens as if there were no other differences between the two countries. I also feel like there's a pretty wide range of teen behaviors in the spectrum from “at dinner, or on a special occasion or holiday, with adult supervision” ranging to “at parties with adult supervision”.

    I have to say, I was pretty shocked by the 35 percent of the American kids who were reported to have drank under adult supervision by 8th grade. Are American parents really that permissive in general, or is this an unusual sample population?

  3. The study doesn't seem to really compare responsible teen drinking. Getting a case or a keg for your childs party isn't responsible. Having a beer with your parents with dinner however is.

    My parents didn't hide alcohol in our home but we all knew liquor was off limits. By the time I hit high school the only drinking my parents ever did in front of us was a mixed drink every now and then, or my dads craft beer fix.

    Interestingly though my cousins mother allows them to drink with her supervision. Both her 20 yr old and her 17 yr old regularly get drunk both with her under her supervision and with they're friends without supervision. Doesn't take much to figure her kids will probably have alcohol problems.

  4. I read about a study that says Beer makes men grow breasts! So much for idiotic studies.

  5. Jared - "Both her 20 yr old and her 17 yr old regularly get drunk … Doesn't take much to figure her kids will probably have alcohol problems." Really? I suggest that's entirely your evidence-free guess. And what's your definition of "regularly get drunk" anyway? "Regularly have a few beers" or "regularly fall unconscious"? There's a very big difference. But in any case, in considerably more liberal-minded England, I was drinking regularly from the age of 17, frequently to the point of drunkenness, as were most of my friends: 40 years later I know of none of them with "alcohol problems", and personally I now frequently go weeks without alcohol.

  6. Seems to me that you quoted a rehash of an earlier study that compared rates of alcoholism between individuals that started drinking before age 21 and those that waited until after age 21.

  7. What if alcoholism is hereditary and parents that drink with their kids are alcoholics. The kids could be alcoholics because they inherited it not because they drank at 16, 18, or 21.

  8. Martynn

    I used similar standards for drunkeness that the study did. Vomiting, becoming violent or aggressive, Not remembering the night before..

    As a consumer of alcohol I understand that it's not the amount of alcohol consumed that causes these symptoms. I still remember getting food poisoning at a beer festival a couple years ago.

    I also as a consumer of alcohol understand the way you drink now doesn't necesarily mean you'll continue that way your whole life. My sister was a partier and used to consume far more then I do but rarely does anymore.

    I am not against allowing your own kids to drink anymore then you probably are. I was simply trying to make a point that the study is flawed in that it doesn't look at the way parents drink with their kids, and that it probably has far more to do with their kids' drinking habits then the fact that they're allowed to drink at all. Having a few beers with your parents or buddies is different then getting shit faced at a party and waking up next to a stranger.... At least I'd hope it would be.

  9. There is absolutely nothing in the study that isolates the link between letting kids drink and subsequent abuse. Letting kids drink is probably highly correlated with other aspects of home life like heavy and irresponsible drinking by parents.

    I don't think that parents who let kids drink while young are a random sample of all parents.

    Making any kind of causal statement is, then, totally unwarranted.