Magazine article USA TODAY

Steering Teens Away from Problem Drinking

Magazine article USA TODAY

Steering Teens Away from Problem Drinking

Article excerpt

Parents, peers, and involvement in school and community activities are among the strongest influences in helping teenagers avoid problem drinking, according to a study by J. Kelly Coker, a Ph.D. candidate at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Coker, now a faculty member at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, found that "Peers and the kinds of friends the kids make early in high school play a large, direct role in their decisions about drinking behavior. Positive peer relationships, where kids have shared values systems, go a long way toward preventing problem behavior like drinking, or at least keeping it from getting out of hand."

Strong, positive relationships with their parents and other adults, such as teachers, can influence the kinds of friends teenagers hang out with during their high school years. Those who share the same "pro-social" values systems, school and community activities, and social groups generally can avoid developing problems. "That doesn't mean that they won't try new things, to experiment, because after all they are in adolescence. They're at an age when this is natural. …

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