Pa.'s drinking rate among teens higher than national average

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Mar 16, 2015 3:53 AM

(Harrisburg) -- In a new survey, more Pennsylvania teens say they have had alcohol, but fewer reported drinking heavily, compared to the national average, but the biennial report also recommends how to best prevent underage drinking.

The brain doesn't finish developing until age 25, which makes the issue so important for people like Bethany Gardner, Director of the Bureau of Alcohol Education at the state Liquor Control Board.

"That's why it's really dangerous drinking for them, because not only do they have the effects of alcohol, but then they don't have the cognitive ability to make rational decisions after they do use alcohol. So it's just helping parents understand that," says Gardner.

She says parents need to talk about drinking early and often, and points to a program from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

"It's a 25 minute presentation to parents where you talk to them about how to talk to their kids, how to have the conversation, how to lay out what their guidelines are and even some suggestions around parenting, types of parenting," says Gardner.

However, in the most recent fiscal year, only 331 parents participated in the Power of Parents presentation.

Meanwhile, the state Liquor Control Board's recent survey finds nearly 62 percent of 10th graders report drinking at least once, while the national average is about 52 percent.

Binge drinking was low though, as Pennsylvania came in under the national average for both 8th and 10th graders.

The survey finds boys view drinking as more important to their social life than girls.

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