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%.