The Know When. Know How. campaign was built around positive and informative messages to help parents better understand the issues of underage drinking and the harm alcohol can cause. Communications like this website and the media campaign that likely led you here are filled with facts and tips to help parents have ongoing conversations with their kids about underage drinking.
Underage drinking is a serious problem across the United States. Research from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that 80 percent of children feel that their parents play a major role in their decision to drink or not drink.1 That statistic guided our research to focus on understanding what parents in Pennsylvania think and believe about alcohol and underage drinking.
A statewide telephone survey of more than 500 Pennsylvania parents with children under age 21, along with eight focus groups across the state with parents of children between the ages of 5 and 15 provided a snapshot into the thoughts and beliefs of real Pennsylvania parents behind the issue.
We uncovered strong evidence that a campaign targeted at Pennsylvania parents was needed. The research found that:
- Almost all parents (94 percent) believe it is their responsibility to talk to their kids about the risks of underage drinking, but only one in three parents (35 percent) had seen, read or heard any information that explained how to do it.
- Most parents are not familiar with the facts about underage drinking. They are not aware of the long-term effects alcohol can have on kids. They are not knowledgeable about penalties for underage drinking. They don’t know when children usually begin drinking.
- Parents have much to learn about talking with their children about underage drinking. More than half of the parents surveyed have never talked to their kids about how alcohol use is portrayed in the media. And about one-third of parents with kids 12 or older have never talked to their children about choosing friends who do not drink. A large number have never spoken to their child about how they would discipline them if they were caught drinking.
- Most parents need to understand their own behaviors and attitudes about alcohol if they’re to prevent their kids from drinking underage. Most parents (69 percent) keep alcohol in their homes, and more than half (53 percent) think it would be very or somewhat easy for their kids to access the alcohol without their knowledge. Three in five parents (61 percent) have had a drink in the past 30 days, and one in five (20 percent) binge drank in the past month. Two in five parents (40 percent) would accept an underage child drinking alcohol on special occasions.2
By understanding what PA parents think, messages can be focused on the behaviors and mindsets that need to change to prevent underage drinking.
1Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Why You Should Talk With Your Child About Alcohol,” last modified September 20, 2017.