The latest CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health from the University of Michigan finds that few parents (10%) believe their own teens, ages 13 to 17 years old, have used alcohol in the last year and even fewer (5%) believe their own teens have used marijuana in the last year.
Those levels are substantially below what teens themselves reported in the latest Monitoring the Future study, where 52% of 10th graders reported drinking alcohol in the last year and 28% of 10th graders reported using marijuana in the last year.
“There’s a clear mismatch between what parents are reporting in terms of their children’s possible use of substances and what teenagers report themselves,” says Bernard Biermann, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Medical Director of the Child/Adolescent Inpatient Unit at the University of Michigan.
In the poll, Biermann and other researchers also found that parents of teens are very likely to believe that at least 40% of 10th graders used marijuana in the last year and that 60% of 10th graders drank alcohol in the last year. In other words, parents are more likely to expect marijuana and alcohol use by teenagers other than their own.
“The results of this poll indicate the potential value of educational campaigns for the public about teen substance use – reaching out to teens, parents and other adults to encourage better communication and shared information,” says Matthew Davis, MD, MAPP, Director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health and Associate Professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School.