Over the holiday, I talked with many friends and family members about their children’s struggles in college, and almost all the problems had to deal with too much partying and too little studying.
(I am also surprised at the number of teens who are transferring after only semester but I will leave that topic to another day. When I went to college, most of us stuck it out for the full freshman year. By then, some of us had come to like our campuses and to feel more at home.)
Related to that same issue, the AJC had a story yesterday on the rise in binge drinking in girls and women.
Binge drinking continues to be a worrisome, under-recognized health problem among women and girls, according to a CDC report issued Tuesday. Nearly 14 million women binge drink about three times a month, and consume an average of six drinks per binge, the CDC report said.
“It is alarming to see that binge drinking is so common among women and girls, and that women and girls are drinking so much when they do,” said Robert Brewer, of the CDC’s Alcohol Program. Binge drinking for women is defined as consuming four or more alcohol drinks, such as beer, liquor or wine, on an occasion.
According to the report, which is based on results of a 2011 phone survey of about 278,000 women and 7,500 high school girls:
— About 1 in 8 women and 1 in 5 high school girls report binge drinking.
— Binge drinking was most common among white and Hispanic women, and among women with household incomes of $75,000 or more.
— Half of all high school girls who drink alcohol report binge drinking. Girls are quickly catching up to boys when it comes to binge drinking.
— Binge drinking results in about 23,000 deaths in women and girls each year.
Given that backdrop, I thought it might help to share this statement from the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE) at Susquehanna University:
With the first semester in the rearview mirror and a new one quickly approaching, research from the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE) at Susquehanna University and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) suggests that dialogue between parents and their first-year college students may be more important than ever.
According to the national survey, approximately one-third of teens are experimenting with risky behaviors – many for the first time – during their first semester at college. Roughly one-third of current college students surveyed reported drinking alcohol (37 percent), engaging in intimate sexual behavior (37 percent), or having sexual intercourse (32 percent) during their first semester at college.
Among these teens, one-quarter to nearly half report engaging in these behaviors for the first time:
· Drinking alcohol = 26 percent
· Using other drugs = 46 percent
· Driving impaired = 35 percent
· Having sex = 27 percent
“Clearly these numbers are cause for continuing concern about the health and safety of young people on college campuses,” said Stephen Gray Wallace, director of CARE and an associate research professor at Susquehanna University. “This reinforces the need for sustained education and prevention efforts both before and during the early stages of the college experience, when behavioral patterns are likely being formed.”
Research from the Pennsylvania State University also points to the early stages of college as a critical time in preventing students from becoming heavy drinkers, as well as the positive impact of parent-based interventions.
“While our research shows that first-semester college students do sometimes put themselves at risk, not all students are doing so,” said Penny Wells, SADD’s president and CEO, citing the 2011 Monitoring the Future study finding that alcohol consumption among college students has declined 12 percent since 1991. “Even those students who are [drinking or using other drugs] can still learn to reduce undesirable risk behaviors. Parent expectations and communication play an important role in helping their children through this transition period.”
Parents can help by:
· Reflecting with their students on the first-semester experience and what role, if any, alcohol use played in their academic, athletic or social performance;
• Pointing out that research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) links college alcohol use with injury, assault, sexual abuse and depression;
• Emphasizing that many college students build a rewarding social environment without drinking or other risk behaviors;
• Clearly communicating expectations for responsible behavior and sound achievement;
• Encouraging on-campus connections with caring adults, such as a faculty member, coach, counselor, or member of the student affairs or chaplaincy staff.
The study, conducted for CARE and SADD by ORC International Inc., surveyed 1,070 U.S. teens from ages 16 to 19 on their behaviors during college admissions visits and in their first semester at college. Participants included current college students reflecting on previous visits and their first college year. Data was collected online in April 2012.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog