Washington, DC — A new survey released today reveals that nearly half of all mothers think underage drinking is acceptable in different circumstances. The survey, commissioned by The Century Council, a national not-for-profit organization funded by America’s leading distilled spirits producers, found that mothers of teenage daughters underestimate the occurrence of underage drinking among their own daughters and misjudge the seriousness of the issue. In partnership with the Society for Women’s Health Research and the Montgomery County Maryland Alcohol Beverage Control Board, The Century Council announced the release of a new program, Girl Talk: Choices and Consequences of Underage Drinking, to address this gap in knowledge and understanding of the prevalence of underage drinking, much of which is based on lack of effective communication between mothers and their teenage daughters. Significant survey findings include the following: Mothers significantly underestimate daughter’s experience with alcohol • 16% of 13-15 year old girls say they drink with friends, only 5% of their mothers think their daughters are drinking; • 30% of 16-18 year old girls say they drink with friends, only 9% of their mothers think their daughters are drinking; • 51% of 19-21 year old girls say they drink with friends and only 32% of their mothers thought they were drinking. Alarmingly, mothers say underage drinking is acceptable • Nearly half (49%) of mothers of teenage girls say it is okay for their daughters to drink; • 38% of mothers say it is okay for their daughters to drink on special occasions; • 21% of mothers say it is okay to drink under parental supervision at home; • 20% of mothers say drinking alcohol is a natural part of growing up. “These data show that mothers start out viewing underage alcohol consumption as a serious problem, yet as their daughters grow older mothers switch their message from “don’t do it” to “be safe”; this illustrates a disturbing misperception among moms about the seriousness of problems associated with alcohol consumption by their teenage daughters,” said Century Council Chairman, Susan Molinari. 71% of Girls Think Health Consequences Serious “It is heartening to know that young women recognize and appreciate some of the very significant and unique health consequences associated with underage drinking, but disheartening that so many still continue to drink,” said Phyllis Greenberger, MSW, President and CEO of the Society for Women’s Health Research. “These data allow us to teach and inform our young women with the added knowledge of understanding what will most discourage them from drinking from a health consequences perspective. The bottom line however is that it isn’t enough to know the consequences — you have to act on them and that is what we are here to help young women do,” added Greenberger. When asked how serious they thought health risks were for teens that drink, 71% of the girls polled stated that they believe the health risks associated with drinking are serious. Putting a finer point on their concerns, the research also uncovered “the five strongest health-consequences that would keep teens from drinking alcohol” according to survey responses of teenage girls ages 13-18. Among the health consequences they identified are the following: Alcohol poisoning/overdose 64% Rape 63% Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)/HIV-AIDS 52% Unsafe/unplanned sex 52% Harm to mental development 39% Hangover 37% Pregnancy 45% Suicide 35% Harm to physical development 27% Vomiting 28% Weight gain or weight loss 28% Girl Talk: Choices and Consequences of Underage Drinking In the face of these data, The Century Council developed a new public awareness campaign entitled, Girl Talk: Choices and Consequences of Underage Drinking, to improve dialogue among mothers and daughters. The campaign will help mothers initiate and sustain conversations about alcohol. “Ongoing and frequent conversations should start at age 11 and take place continuously throughout and beyond high school. Eleven is not too early,” said Dr. Anthony Wolf, PhD, parenting expert. “Daughters report these conversations should continue through high school when, as the data show, underage consumption of alcohol increases. Sadly, many mothers appear not to be initiating these conversations, The Century Council is working to address that problem,” said Molinari. Girl Talk utilizes the data gleaned from the survey including those health consequences of most concern to the girls. Girl Talk also highlights the daughters’ advice to their moms regarding talking about underage drinking. Girls participating in the survey responded that: • Moms must be approachable, able to keep an open mind and must not lecture or overreact — ”just because I am asking about alcohol does not mean I am drinking alcohol.” • Moms: Keep the conversation real and personal by telling about your own personal and real-life experiences, choices and consequences, and if you don’t want to talk about yourself, share the experiences of people you know. • Be my parent, not my friend. Share your values and set the rules and discuss the social risks of underage drinking beyond just drunk driving. The Century Council has developed a comprehensive program tailored specifically for mothers and daughters including: • A website, www.girlsanddrinking.org, for mothers and daughters with additional information on how to have the underage drinking conversation and links to additional national and local resources related to underage drinking. • Booklets for mothers, detailing how to begin the conversation, sustain the conversation and have an impact as well as information explaining the facts about alcohol, and addressing issues such as peer pressure and creative ways to say “no” to alcohol. • A Blog, hosted by the Society for Women’s Health, for moms and daughters to discuss their experiences and connect with others on this issue. The Blog will be available in January of 2006. • A media partnership with The N, a nighttime network for teens to further build public awareness among young women about the dangers of underage drinking including sponsorship this week of episodes of Degrassi a critically acclaimed teen drama that follows a group of 10th and 11th graders at Degrassi Community School as they deal with the trials and tribulations of adolescence which feature underage drinking themes. “We look forward to helping to facilitate the distribution of materials and messages related to this important project,” said Kathy Durbin of Montgomery County, Maryland’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board. Additionally, the US Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association will partner with The Century Council on this initiative. The National Soccer Team Players Association will endorse Girl Talk through personal appearances at functions and schools, in print and online media, public service announcements and other integrated marketing initiatives. Through its official fan club alone, The Ponytail Posse, the US Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association has the potential to reach millions of girls around the world. “Girls need to be informed of the toll that underage drinking can take not only on their health but also on their grades and reputations. Myself and my teammates want all of the young girls out there who look up to us as role models to know that underage drinking is wrong and it’s something they need to talk about with their mothers,” says Kristine Lilly, two time Olympic gold medalist. About the Surveys The Century Council commissioned Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) to conduct a comprehensive research project to better understand the dynamics of underage drinking among mothers and daughters. TRU fielded a study April 2005 among a national on-line sample - a total of 875 respondents (496 daughters and 379 mothers, 322 of the matching) completed the questionnaire. Quotas were set to ensure that a representative number of daughters (and mothers) from each of the following age segments completed the survey: 13-15 year olds, 16-18 year olds, and 19-20 years olds. The mother-daughter results presented here reflect the matched mother and daughter data collected. TRU conducted an additional self-administered online omnibus survey, OmnibuzzTM, among 802 13 to 18 year olds in August 2005. The data were weighted for key demographic variables (gender, age, ethnicity, parent education, region and community-type of place of school) to reflect the national population. The margin of error for both survey samples at the 95 percent confidence level is + 3 percentage points. That is, if this survey were to be replicated 100 times, in 95 instances the results would be within three percentage points of the data reported here. The Society for Women’s Health Research The Society for Women’s Health Research is the nation’s only non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the health of all women through research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1990, the Society brought to national attention the need for the appropriate inclusion of women in major medical research studies and the need for more information about conditions affecting women disproportionately, predominately, or differently than men. The Society advocates increased funding for research on women’s health; encourages the study of sex differences that may affect the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease; promotes the inclusion of women in medical research studies; and informs women, providers, policy makers and media about contemporary women’s health issues. Visit the Society’s website at www.womenshealthresearch.org for more information. US Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association The US Women's National Soccer Team Players Association was created after the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup to represent all the players that comprise the US Women's National Soccer Team, and give the US Soccer Federation the assurance that the new Uniform Player Agreement and Collective Bargaining Agreement would govern its relationship with the players through the 2004 Olympics. The Association has primarily functioned as a representation and negotiating body, and is now making greater efforts to promote its constituent players. More information can be found at: www.unitedsoccerathletes.com and www.ponytailposse.com. The N The N, the nighttime network for teens, is a programming arm of MTV Networks and is currently available in 45 million households via cable, digital cable and satellite television. The N's mission is to be the authentic voice for teens and help them figure out their lives with relevant, topical programming on-air and online at the network’s website www.the-n.com. The N airs everyday from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. (ET). The N and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control (MC DLP), Community Outreach Office The Montgomery County Hospitality Resource Panel (MC HRP) was established in the spring of 2000 through grant funding obtained by Montgomery County Health and Human Resources, the Department of Liquor Control and the National Alcoholic Beverages Control Association. In 2002, the MC HRP model was used to develop the Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control (MC DLC), Community Outreach Office. The Community Outreach Manager, Kathie Durbin continues to model the process developed by the Responsible Hospitality Institute, an community organizing framework for creating an alliance of businesses, associations, agencies, educators and suppliers dedicated to developing safe communities and healthy businesses through the promotion of responsible hospitality principles and practices. Visit the Montgomery County DLC, Community Outreach website for more information: www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dlc or Kathie.firstname.lastname@example.org. Launched in 1991, The Century Council is funded by America's leading distillers. The Council's mission is to promote responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol and discourage all forms of irresponsible consumption through education, communications, research, law enforcement and other programs. For more information on the Council, log onto www.centurycouncil.org.
Maria Tildon, The Century Council (202) 637-0077
Leslie Kimball, The Century Council (202) 637-0077
Leslie Kimball, The Century Council (202) 637-0077