Burke Henderson, SADD - (508) 481-3568
Greenberg (Liberty Mutual) - (617) 574-5874
Study Links Teens "Sense of Self" to Alcohol, Drug Use
March 2, 2004
How teenagers feel about themselves plays a significant role
in whether they choose to drink or use other drugs, according to a new
report released today by SADD and Liberty Mutual Group. The Teens
Today 2003 study also reveals that a teens "Sense of
Self," can influence sexual behavior, reaction to peer pressure,
and, importantly, be affected by a teens relationships with parents.
of Self" is a young adults' self-evaluation on their progress in
three key developmental areas: identity formation, independence and
peer relationships. The report finds that teens with a high Sense of
Self feel more positive about their own identity, growing independence
and relationships with peers than do teens with a low Sense of Self.
Specifically, high Sense of Self teens reported feeling smart, successful,
responsible and confident and cite positive relationships with parents.
Also, significantly, the study revealed that:
Sense of Self teens are more likely to avoid alcohol and drug use;
Sense of Self teens are more likely to use alcohol and "harder"
drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine; and,
involvement strongly correlates with teens Sense of Self and
the decisions they make regarding alcohol and drug use.
information is critically important in helping us to better understand
the role that self-definition plays in predisposing young adults to
destructive decision-making, establishing a clear link between whom
they are and what they do," said Stephen Wallace, chairman
and chief executive officer of the national SADD organization.
the key findings demonstrating the importance of Sense of Self and parental
percent of teens with a high Sense of Self report that their relationship
with their parents helps make them feel good about themselves, while
only about one third of low Sense of Self teens report the same.
30 percent of high school teens whose parents provide a strong level
of guidance have used drugs, compared to 48 percent of high school
teens whose parents do not provide strong guidance.
than half (47 percent) of high school teens whose parents provide
a strong level of guidance have used alcohol, compared to 80 percent
of high school teens whose parents do not provide strong guidance.
with a high Sense of Self report overwhelmingly that they feel respected
by their parents (93 percent) and close to their parents (85 percent),
while teens with a low Sense of Self report lower levels of respect
from their parents (8 percent) and closeness to their parents (12
two thirds (64 percent) of teens believe it is very likely they will
lose their parents trust if caught drinking alcohol; two-thirds (67
percent) report the same with respect to drug use.
Does This Mean For Families?
These findings are consistent with past Teens Today studies that
have shown that teens who report regular, open communication with their
parents about important issues say they are more likely to try to live
up to their parents expectations and less likely to drink, use
drugs or engage in early sexual behavior.
Condrin, Liberty Mutual executive vice president, Personal Market, said,
"We know that parents who cultivate a family environment that includes
positive, open channels of communication with their children are much
more successful at influencing their children to avoid engaging in dangerous
behaviors. Now we know that helping to develop a young persons
positive Sense of Self can go to great lengths at improving the odds
that the child will avoid alcohol and drug use."
Teens Today 2003 points to important steps parents can take to
positively enhance their teens Sense of Self.
a wide sampling of interests, activities and age-appropriate behaviors.
separation from parents and age-appropriate independence in decision-making.
peer-to-peer social skills and facilitate (positive) peer relationships.
teens Sense of Self also relates directly to mental health and
relationships with peers. For example, teens with a low Sense of Self
are more likely than teens with a high Sense of Self to report regular
feelings of stress and depression, weaker relationships with parents
and greater susceptibility to peer pressure. Other key findings from
who regularly feel stress or depression are much less inclined than
other teens to avoid high-risk behaviors such as drinking, using drugs
or engaging in early sexual activity.
who avoid drinking and drug use are more likely to have a favorable
feelings of stress and depression tend to be more common among sexually
active teens than among their non-sexually active peers.
Sense of Self teens are more resistant to pressure from peers to drink,
use drugs or have sex.
Teens Today 2003 reports on the completion of a total of 2,753
self-administered surveys by middle and high school students in grades
6 - 12. RoperASW designed the Teens Today 2003 survey and administered
it in a nationwide cross-section of 46 schools (25 middle schools, 21
high schools) between May 6 and June 18, 2003. The sampling error for
the study at the 95 percent confidence level is +/- 3 percentage points
for the total sample. Additional findings from qualitative research
(focus groups and individual interviews), designed and conducted by
Atlantic Research and Consulting, Inc. in April 2003, were used in the
development of the student survey.
rated themselves according to characteristics tied to the adolescent
developmental tasks of Identity, Independence and Peer Relations. A
composite profile rating each participant as high, medium or low Sense
of Self was developed and then correlated to three psychographic profiles,
or "decision-types," identified in earlier Teens Today
research: Avoiders (teens who tend to avoid alcohol and other drug use),
Experimenters (teens who occasionally experiment with alcohol and other
drug use), and Repeaters (teens who regularly engage in alcohol and
other drug use).
of Self scores were also correlated with the Teens Today decision
factors of Mental States (e.g. boredom, depression), Personal Goals
(e.g. to feel grown up, to fit in), Potential Outcomes (e.g. impact
on academic/athletic performance, chances of getting caught) and Significant
People (e.g. parents, peers).
and Liberty Mutual Group
SADD, Inc. (Students Against Destructive Decisions/Students Against
Driving Drunk) sponsors peer-to-peer education and prevention programs
in middle schools and high schools nationwide.
Mutual Group is one of the largest multi-line insurers in the property
and casualty industry. Offering a wide range of products and services,
including private passenger auto and homeowners insurance, Liberty Mutual
Group employs 37,000 people in more than 900 offices throughout the
and Liberty Mutual make available a number of important family communication
Contract for Life and "Opening Lifesaving Lines" brochure
Family Focus speakers program
Mutuals "Avoiding Collisions: How To Survive The Teenage
Driving Years" video and brochure
Mutual "Family Communication Tips"
more information or to receive materials, contact:
SADD, Inc., 1-877-SADD-INC, www.sadd.org
Liberty Mutual Group, 1-800-4-LIBERTY, www.libertymutualinsurance.com
Other Key Findings
involvement with alcohol increases steadily as they mature.
teens are more likely than older teens to drink because of peer pressure.
teens are more likely than younger teens to drink to escape problems.
Sense of Self teens are particularly resistant to peer pressure to
who are alcohol Repeaters and Experimenters are much more likely than
teens who are alcohol Avoiders to have immediate family members who
drink a lot.
most commonly used drug among teens is marijuana.
teens are more likely than older teens to use drugs to feel grown
teens are more likely than younger teens to use drugs because of stress.
Sense of Self teens are considerably less likely than other teens
to be susceptible to peer pressure to use drugs.
Sense of Self teens are more likely than are high Sense of Self teens
to use drugs to escape from or forget about problems.
Sense of Self teens are more likely to have friends who use drugs.
half of teens have engaged in some sexual activity other than kissing.
motivations for having sex do not vary widely by age.
most common reasons for teens to have sex are to strengthen the relationship
with a partner and to have fun.
Sense of Self teens are more resistant to peer pressure when it comes
to decisions about sex and are more likely to refuse an offer to have
Sense of Self teens are more likely than high Sense of Self teens
to cite boredom and depression as reasons to have sex.
Sense of Self teens are more likely than high Sense of Self teens
to associate sex with negative emotional outcomes such as depression
or loss of self-respect.
are more likely than boys to link sex with loss of self-respect and
who avoid drinking and drugs are more likely to have a favorable self-image.
of the most common reasons to avoid drinking or using drugs is to
Sense of Self teens are more likely to feel strongly that it is okay
to drive after drinking or using drugs.
and alcohol Repeaters are particularly likely to have friends who
drink or use drugs a lot.
Drugs, Sex and Driving
who choose to avoid potentially destructive behaviors are considerably
more inclined than those who do not to view drinking, drugs and sex
as very harmful for someone their age.
Avoiders are more likely to associate specific negative outcomes,
such as loss of parent trust, increase risk of auto accidents, chance
of risky sexual behaviors and increased risk of poor academic performance,
quality of parent-teen relationships is likely to play a critical
role in determining teens mood and, thus, their susceptibility
to destructive decision-making.
whose parents set guidelines for their behaviors are more inclined
to feel positively about themselves and to avoid drinking and using
Sense of Self teens are more likely than other teens to communicate
openly and honestly with their parents and to describe themselves
as close to their parents.
Sense of Self teens are particularly likely to feel that they spend
an insufficient amount of time with their parents.
teens are significantly more likely than are older teens to say that
their relationship with their parents makes them feel very good about
who avoid drinking and drugs are more likely to have positive relationships
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