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Inadequate Parental Supervision in Adolescent Girls Increases Risk of Alcohol Abuse


A lack of parental support and supervision during girls early adolescent years combined with early puberty can increase the risk of illicit alcohol consumption, a new study has found.

The study undertaken in Sweden by Dr. Brett Laursen of Florida Atlantic University in Fort Lauderdale and his colleagues, surveyed 957 Swedish girls who were in the first year of secondary school, aged 13-14yrs. They examined to see if early maturing girls were at a greater risk of problems arising from lack of parent supervision.

Out of those surveyed roughly 20% had started their periods before the age of 12, which the report classed as ‘early maturing’, 60% first menstruated at 12 or 13yrs or ‘on-time’ and the remaining 20% started after 13yrs of age classed as ‘late-maturing’.

Alcohol abuse in each group rose as the girls got older but those in the ‘on time’ and ‘late-maturing’ group the level in which their alcohol abuse rose was not down to lack of parental supervision.

However researchers found that the level of autonomy given to the girls in the ‘early maturing’ group affected their alcohol abuse.

In this group the girls who thought they had the least freedom and had parents with the tightest control had an 84% increase in alcohol abuse over the next four years. Those who had a medium autonomy had a 160% increase in alcohol abuse and those who were given the most autonomy, the most freedom and least parental supervision, had a 234% increase in alcohol abuse.

Early maturing girls tend to have older friends, who reported “relatively high” levels of alcohol abuse, the study found.

“The more parents simply pay attention to what their child is doing, the less likely they are to do unhealthy things,” said Dr. Terrill Bravender, a professor and division director of adolescent medicine at the University of Michigan Department of Pediatrics in Ann Arbor in an editorial accompanying the new study.

The take-home message is be part of your children's life and know what they're doing, who they're with, and set up some appropriate boundaries for them, especially if they're early-maturing girls,” he said.

Over time the less closely their parents supervised them, the more alcohol they would consume.

“You would hope that once kids started participating in these activities, parents might find out.”

“You should have a general idea of who your child's friends are, and who they're spending time with” concluded Dr. Bravender.

Source: Reuters




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