Parent Perceptions Matter

This report presents important data about how Minnesota parents perceive alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use among their children and the students in their children’s schools. Understanding parent perceptions is a critical element of a comprehensive strategy aimed at keeping youth healthy and safe by avoiding the risks associated with alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.

Most Minnesota teens have healthy attitudes, share positive family values, and do not use alcohol. At the same time, far too many young people use alcohol. So, while most students make good decisions about alcohol, the negative impacts associated with those that drink are devastating. Alcohol use contributes to poor academic performance, violence, property damage, and sexual assaults.

Two key findings emerge from these data that reflect both hope and concern about raising teenagers who choose not to use alcohol. Hope is expressed in data that show that the majority of parents who responded have strong protective beliefs and behaviors. They believe that their own teenagers share similar beliefs and are making the right choices by avoiding illegal substances. Concern is reflected in the fact that these same parents do not believe that most other parents of students at their children’s school share the same positive views, and they believe more youth choose to use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs than really do.

Research indicates that when parents have misperceptions like these, they are less likely to take protective actions.

Gaps in perceptions present both challenges and opportunities for addressing complex issues such as youth substance abuse. Accurate information empowers parents to continue doing what they do best—raising healthy kids. These data indicate the need to empower Minnesota parents with accurate information about youth substance abuse norms to increase the majority of youth that make healthy decisions.

Survey Background

The results presented in this report are based on the 2013 Positive Community Norms Parent Survey. These data represent findings from a project involving 10 communities in Minnesota. These results appear to be representative of the participating schools but should not be generalized to the entire state or to parents in other communities. This report was prepared under a special project operated by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The results in this report focus on parent perceptions of youth substance use and attitudes. These survey results are based on 270 parents (23% male, 77% female) of 7th-12th graders randomly selected. The confidence interval is ±4.60 with a confidence level of 95%.

 


Parent Protective Beliefs and Behaviors Regarding Student Use of Alcohol

Actual and Perceived Norms

Parent Protective Beliefs and Behaviors Regarding Student Use of Alcohol

  • In 2013, 60% of parents said their children should not be allowed to drink until age 21 or older. Q24 However, 67% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school thought age 20 or younger; and, 60% perceived that most adults in their community thought age 20 or younger. Q25, Q26
  • In 2013, 87% of parents strongly agreed or agreed: “Students my child’s age risk harming themselves (physically or in other ways) if they drink alcohol (other than for religious purposes or at a ceremony).” Q4 However, 26% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 79% of parents strongly agreed: “I disapprove of students my child’s age drinking alcohol (other than for religious purposes or at a ceremony).” Q7 However, 59% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 85% of parents strongly agreed: “Parents should clearly communicate with their children about the importance of not using alcohol.”Q10 However, 54% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 75% of parents strongly agreed: “Parents should not let their underage children drink alcohol at home.”Q13 However, 67% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 74% of parents strongly agreed: “Parents should take steps like checking with other parents, using curfews and requiring their children to check-in during the evening to prevent underage drinking.”Q14 However, 67% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 65% of parents strongly agreed or agreed: “I know what to say when discussing our family rules about alcohol with my child.” Q15 However, 80% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 70% of parents strongly agreed: “I believe parents should discuss their children’s future personal choices or guidelines for alcohol use to prepare their children for when they turn age 21.”Q16 However, 77% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 80% of parents strongly agreed or agreed: “I am comfortable talking to other parents about rules or guidelines on underage drinking.” Q17 However, 49% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 72% of parents strongly agreed: “I believe local law enforcement should strongly enforce laws regulating alcohol use by youth under age 21.” Q18 However, 69% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way; and, 66% perceived most adults in their community did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 88% of parents strongly agreed or agreed: “My community should adopt or strongly enforce our existing social hosting ordinance which makes it unlawful for adults to allow underage youth (other than their children) to drink alcohol in their home.” Q19 However, 34% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way; and, 30% perceived most adults in their community did not feel the same way.

Parental Engagement in Protective Behaviors

Parental Engagement in Protective Behaviors

  • In 2013, 96% of parents discussed family rules about alcohol with their children once or twice a year or more often. Q27 However, 11% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school had never discussed their rules. Q28
  • In 2013, 86% of parents usually or always find out if an adult is present when their child goes to someone else’s house. Q29 However, 59% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did this less frequently. Q30
  • In 2013, 82% of parents usually or always use a curfew with their child. Q31 However, 47% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did this less frequently. Q32
  • In 2013, 84% of parents usually or always require their child to check in or call when they are out. Q33 However, 53% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did this less frequently. Q34
  • In 2013, 80% of parents sometimes, usually or always discussed their own personal choices or guidelines for their alcohol use with their children. Q35 However, 38% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school had discussed this seldom or never. Q36
  • In 2013, 76% of parents sometimes, usually or always discussed future personal choices or guidelines for alcohol use with their children to prepare for when they turn age 21. Q37 However, 41% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school had discussed this seldom or never. Q38
  • In 2013, 55% of parents sometimes, usually or always discussed with other parents rules or guidelines on underage drinking. Q39 However, 48% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school had discussed this seldom or never. Q40

Misperceptions of Alcohol Usage and Related Behaviors

Misperceptions of Alcohol Usage and Related Behaviors

  • In 2013, 66% of parents believed their own child never uses alcohol, while 40% of parents perceived most students in their child’s school use alcohol monthly or more often, and 67% of parents perceived most adults in their community use alcohol weekly or more often. Q20b, Q21b, Q22b
  • In 2013, 56% of parents believed most students in their child’s school drove a car or other vehicle while drinking alcohol or after drinking alcohol one or more times in the past 12 months, and 94% of parents believed most adults in their community had engaged in the same behavior. Q23

Parental Knowledge of Minnesota Law

Parental Knowledge of Minnesota Law

In 2013, parents were asked: “To the best of your knowledge, what is the penalty in Minnesota for an adult who provides alcohol to a minor who is not his or her child?” Q41

  • 3% indicated a fine up to $500
  • 26% indicated a fine up to $1,500 and/or up to 30 days in jail
  • 38% indicated a fine up to $3,000 and/or up to 1 year in jail
  • 1% indicated it is legal for an adult to provide alcohol to a minor as long as it is in the home
  • 31% indicated they did not know

Parent Protective Beliefs and Behaviors Regarding Student Use of Com. Tobacco and Marijuana

Parent Protective Beliefs and Behaviors Regarding Student Use of Commercial Tobacco and Marijuana

  • In 2013, 65% of parents strongly agreed: “Students my child’s age risk harming themselves (physically or in other ways) if they use commercial tobacco.” Q5 However, 61% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 74% of parents strongly agreed: “Students my child’s age risk harming themselves (physically or in other ways) if they use marijuana.” Q6 However, 52% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 84% of parents strongly agreed: “I disapprove of students my child’s age using commercial tobacco.” Q8 However, 56% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 86% of parents strongly agreed: “I disapprove of students my child’s age using marijuana.” Q9 However, 38% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 87% of parents strongly agreed: “Parents should clearly communicate with their children about the importance of not using commercial tobacco.”Q11 However, 56% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 89% of parents strongly agreed: “Parents should clearly communicate with their children about the importance of not using marijuana.”Q12 However, 44% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.

Misperceptions of Commercial Tobacco and Marijuana Usage

Misperceptions of Commercial Tobacco and Marijuana Usage

  • In 2013, 82% of parents believed their own child never uses tobacco, while 33% of parents perceived most students in their child’s school use tobacco monthly or more often, and 65% of parents perceived most adults in their community use tobacco monthly or more often. Q20a, Q21a, Q22a
  • In 2013, 91% of parents believed their own child never uses marijuana, while 36% of parents perceived most students in their child’s school use marijuana once or twice a year or more often, and 48% of parents perceived most adults in their community use marijuana once or twice a year or more often. Q20c, Q21c, Q22c

Preferences on Ways to Receive Information

Preferences on Ways to Receive Information

In 2013, parents were asked how likely they would utilize different sources of information to prevent their children from drinking.

  Very likely Somewhat likely Somewhat unlikely Not very likely
Attend a meeting in the community 11% 37% 21% 31%
Attend a meeting hosted by your church or faith community 19% 35% 18% 28%
Attend a meeting at your child’s school 23% 47% 13% 17%
Attend a meeting at your child’s school before or after school conferences 25% 42% 16% 16%
Use materials sent to you in the mail 42% 46% 6% 7%
Access materials at the local library 10% 21% 27% 42%
Access a website with information 39% 36% 11% 14%
Access a Facebook page with information 19% 24% 17% 40%

Awareness of Agencies and Local Campaign

Awareness of Agencies and Local Campaign

  • In 2013, 64% of parents indicated they were aware of a community agency in their area that worked to prevent problems associated with underage youth drinking alcohol. Q43
  • In 2013, 65% of parents indicated it was very important to have local groups in their community working to prevent problems associated with underage youth drinking alcohol. Q44 However, 66% perceived most parents of students at their child’s school did not feel the same way.
  • In 2013, 25% of parents indicated they had heard or seen the local campaign name a few times a month or more often since the beginning of the school year. Q45

Parent Key Actions 2013

Key Actions

This report reveals both hope and concern when it comes to preventing alcohol, tobacco and other drug use in Minnesota. As with all communities, there are still serious problems that must be addressed.

As a community member, your voice matters. Data are only helpful when put into action. Here are key actions you can take:

  • Share and discuss this report with coalition members, community leaders and friends (see dialog questions below)
  • Use this information to promote hope for successfully reducing ATOD use
  • Promote intervention and treatment options
  • Compare these data with other findings in your community
  • Use these data to guide policy development
  • Frame media and steer public conversations using these data
  • Create messages to correct misperceptions among youth, parents and community members

Questions to Foster Meaningful Dialog

Questions to Focus Collective Attention

  • What opportunities can you see that the data are revealing?
  • What do we still need to learn about this issue?
  • What would someone who had a very different set of beliefs than you do say about these data?

Questions to Reveal Deeper Insights

  • What has had real meaning for you from what you’ve seen in the data?
  • What surprised you? What challenged you? What encouraged you?
  • What needs clarification?
  • What’s been your major learning, insight, or discovery so far from these data?

Questions to Create Forward Movement

  • What’s possible here?
  • What will it take to create change?
  • What needs our immediate attention going forward?

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For more information, contact

Angela Graham, P and I Grant Coordinator

Phone: 218-255-3692
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Hubbard In Prevention Office

Frank White Education Center
301 Huntsinger Ave.
Park Rapids, MN 56470
Phone 218-255-3692