Deborah Burke Henderson, SADD
Glenn Greenberg, Liberty Mutual
REPORT PARENTAL INATTENTION TO THEIR IMPORTANT "RITES OF PASSAGE"
HAS HIGH PRICE TAG
study ties teen transitions to alcohol and drug use,
sexual behavior, driving habits, and mental health
(December 16, 2005) Almost half of Americas high school
teens report parental inattention to what they consider to be key transitions
during their adolescence, according to a new SADD/Liberty Mutual study
released today. The study suggests that this lack of timely parental
involvement in important "rites of passage" comes with a high
price tag: the potential for dangerous behaviors that can lead to illness,
injury, or death as teens seek alternative milestones to demonstrate
growing maturity and independence.
sixth annual Teens Today report reveals that high school teens
whose parents pay the least attention to significant transition periods
(42 percent), such as puberty, school change, and key birthdays, are
more likely than teens whose parents pay the most attention (18 percent)
to engage in high-risk behaviors, including drinking, drug use, early
sexual intercourse, and dangerous driving. They are more than twice
as likely to report daily stress and appear to be twice as likely to
report being depressed and bored.
a culture largely devoid of formal rites of passage, and
too often unobservant of the few that exist, young people may make up
their own. Far too frequently they include drinking, drugging, and other
potentially destructive behaviors," said Stephen Wallace, chairman
and chief executive officer of the national SADD organization. "By
paying attention to the important transitions of adolescence, parents
can make it less likely that poor choices will become their childs
self-constructed mileposts along the path to adulthood."
important transitions cited by teens included receiving a drivers
license, obtaining their first car, graduating from high school, and
dating a first boyfriend or girlfriend.
Drugs and Sex
Teenagers in the ninth through 12th grades who report high levels of
parental attention (defined as communicating about and recognizing or
celebrating important adolescent "life events") are significantly
less likely than those who report low levels of parental attention to
use alcohol and marijuana or to have ever illegally used prescription
The data also shows that these teens are more likely to delay sexual
intercourse and some other sexual behaviors
Behind the Wheel
The Teens Today research highlights the effect of parental attention
on another significant teen rite of passage: driving. Teen drivers who
report high levels of parental attention are significantly more likely
than those who report low levels of parental attention to say they never
speed (45 percent to 14 percent). The data also suggests that these
teens are more likely to wear seat belts while driving and are less
likely to drive while impaired or to ride in a car with an impaired
is clear from this exciting new research that adequately noting the
important times in their childrens lives such as the transition
to driving age is a necessary, and potentially life-saving, exercise,"
said Paul Condrin, Liberty Mutual executive vice president, Personal
Market. "Motor vehicle crashes are the number-one killer of young
people ages 15 to 20 in this country, and a large number of these deaths
38 percent of males and 25 percent of females involve
speeding," he added, citing 2004 statistics from the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration.
Teens in the low parental attention category appear to be more than
twice as likely to report regularly feeling stressed, depressed, and
bored. Conversely, teens in the high parental attention category are
significantly more likely to say they feel happy every day or almost
American culture has been largely stripped of the formal demarcations
of significant life changes that marked passage for earlier generations
and still form the basis for transition and celebration in other cultures.
Seeking affirmation of growth and movement toward maturity, many young
people then create their own demarcations involving alcohol and other
drug use, early and intimate sexual behavior, and dangerous driving
traditions that leave them at risk.
This Is Important for Families
Teens Today research makes clear the incredibly influential role
that parents can play in guiding their teenage children toward safe,
healthy choices. SADD and Liberty Mutual provide tools to help parents
in this cause: Three Tips for Teen Transitions and Guidelines
for Good Family Communication are available at www.sadd.org and
Additional key findings from this years Teens Today study
also are available online.
Atlantic Research and Consulting, a division of FIND/SVP, conducted
in-depth interviews with teens in Phoenix and focus groups and in-depth
interviews in Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Houston, and Miami.
The findings in the report are based on the completion of 1,968 online
interviews (984 parents and a corresponding teenager for each parent).
Survey results for each group (teen and parent) can be interpreted at
a 95% confidence interval with +/- 3% error margin. Analyses of survey
subgroups are subject to wider error margins. Percentages in the report
may add to more or less than 100% due to rounding error or occasions
when multiple response answers were accepted. Minor statistical weighting
was applied to the teen data.
SADD, Inc. (Students Against Destructive Decisions) is the nations
preeminent peer-to-peer youth education organization, with thousands
of chapters in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. With a mission
of preventing destructive behaviors and addressing attitudes that are
harmful to young people, SADD sponsors programs that address issues
such as underage drinking, substance abuse, impaired driving, and teen
violence, depression, and suicide.
is a leading global multi-line group of insurance companies whose largest
line of business is private passenger auto, based on 2004 net written
premium. "Helping people live safer, more secure lives" since
1912, Liberty Mutual is the eighth-largest personal lines writer and
fifth-largest commercial lines writer in the U.S., based on 2004 direct