Parents can help prevent their underage kids from drinking by employing a relatively simple strategy: setting clear rules that prohibit drinking, new research shows. The finding is based on the survey responses from more than 1,100 U.S. teenagers and young adults in 24 cities in seven states. The participants, who were between 15 and 20 years old, reported their partying behavior, and also... Read More
Parents can help prevent their underage kids from drinking by employing a relatively simple strategy: setting clear rules that prohibit drinking, new research shows.
The finding is based on the survey responses from more than 1,100 U.S. teenagers and young adults in 24 cities in seven states. The participants, who were between 15 and 20 years old, reported their partying behavior, and also whether their families had clear rules against drinking.
"Family rules may be a useful complement to community rules and policies" in the effort to prevent underage drinking, said Mark Wolfson, the study's lead researcher and a professor of social sciences and health policy at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina. [The Drug Talk: 7 New Tips for Today's Parents]
The researchers found that the teenagers whose parents had clear rules against underage drinking were 35 percent less likely to have attended a party where there was alcohol in the past 30 days, compared with teens whose parents did not have crystal-clear rules.
Moreover, the 658 survey participants (about 60 percent) who said they had recently attended parties with alcohol were 38 percent less likely to drink at those parties if their parents had rules against it, compared with kids whose parents didn't have clear rules, the researchers found. Future research should examine whether parents can be coached in developing effective and appropriate rules for their children, Wolfson said. Most parents do set rules, the study showed: Among the teens in the study, 58 percent reported that their parents had clear rules against drinking, Wolfson found.
It's important to curb underage drinking for many reasons, including that it's often associated with risky behaviors, such as drunk driving, interpersonal violence and vandalism, Wolfson said. It can also lead to binge drinking, which is linked with a host of health problems, including liver disease and certain cancers, according to according to a 2012 reportfrom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The finding, though preliminary, could empower families and ultimately help them shape the healthy development of their children, said Adam Lippert, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Denver who was not involved in the research.
However, further research should investigate which types of parental rules work best, he said.
For example, it's unclear whether it's more effective to have rules that specifically forbid kids from drinking alcohol, or to have more general rules that restrict kids from going to parties or that give them curfews, Lippert said.
Moreover, in an email to Live Science, Kenneth Land, a research professor at the Social Science Research Institute at Duke University who was not involved with the research, noted that, "it would be good to have additional data on birth order of the child and a few other items, such as religious affiliation and ... perhaps on parents' own histories of drinking alcohol [and] attending drinking parties when they were teenagers."
The research had other limitations, too. For example, about 76 percent of the participants were white, so the results may not apply to other groups.
The findings were presented Monday (Aug. 22) at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting in Seattle. The study has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Did you know the United Kingdom is one of the most generous countries in the world when it comes to aid for global health and development?
The amount given in 2015 was the equivalent of $18.7 billion in U.S. dollars. That's second only to the $31.08 billion from the United States. It's an impressive total given the comparative size of the two countries and their economies.Full Story
Psychological characteristics link genes with upward social mobility, according to data collected from almost 1000 individuals over four decades. The data suggest that various psychological factors play a role in linking a person’s genetic profile and several important life outcomes, including professional achievement, financial security, geographic mobility, and upward social mobility.
The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
The study, led by psychological scientist Daniel W. Belsky of Duke University School of Medicine, builds on previous research indicating a genetic continuum that predicts individuals’ educational achievement.
In the earlier study, the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium examined millions of genetic variants in more than 100,000 people and found that these variants could be aggregated and turned into a “polygenic score” that was linked with educational attainment. Participants with polygenic scores above zero were more likely to complete more years of schooling, whereas those with scores below zero were likely to complete fewer years of schooling.
“Getting a good education requires many of the same skills and abilities needed to get ahead in life more generally, so we hypothesized that the same genetics that predicted success in schooling would predict success in life,” says Belsky.
Belsky and colleagues capitalized on longitudinal data from the Dunedin Study, an ongoing study that has followed individuals in New Zealand from birth through their fourth decade. The study includes a representative sample and has had a very low dropout rate.
Over the course of the study, participants have completed assessments evaluating their developmental milestones in childhood; their traits, behaviors, and aspirations through adolescence; and their attainments and outcomes in adulthood.
Belsky and colleagues matched the genotypes of Dunedin Study participants with the genome-wide associations with educational attainment that had been reported previously.
The results revealed that genetic links with educational attainment predict outcomes that go well beyond the completion of schooling, as Belsky and colleagues hypothesized.
The researchers found that individuals with higher polygenic scores were more likely to move away from home in search of professional opportunities, they built more successful careers, they were better at managing their money, and they had spouses with higher levels of education and greater earnings.
Importantly, the results indicated that higher polygenic scores were associated with social mobility — children with higher polygenic scores tended to achieve more socioeconomic success even if they were born into families that were relatively poor.
Intelligence partly accounted for the association between genes and life outcomes, but so did other psychological characteristics, including self-control and interpersonal skills (e.g., being friendly).
But there were some important life outcomes that the polygenic scores did not predict. When the researchers looked at whether polygenic score predicted children’s physical health – measured from repeated clinical exams across childhood – they found no evidence of an association.
Together, the findings provide glimpses into how genes may ultimately shape our lives over time, but the researchers emphasize that the associations between polygenic score and life outcomes are small:
“We can make only very weak predictions about how far a child can go in life based on their genes,” Belsky explains.
The data currently available do not provide sufficient information to guide educational interventions or other real-world applications; nonetheless, they raise provocative questions that ought to be discussed among scientists, policymakers, and the members of the public.
“‘Precision education’ or other tailoring of environments to children’s genomes is not possible with the data we have in hand today, but our findings suggest that such data may someday become available,” Belsky says. “It is vital to have the conversation about what that might mean and how we will deal with it before it happens.”
Co-authors include Terrie E. Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi (Duke University and King’s College London); David L. Corcoran, HonaLee Harrington, Renate Houts, Karen Sugden, and Benjamin S. Williams (Duke University); Benjamin Domingue (Stanford University); Sean Hogan, Sandhya Ramrakha, and Richie Poulton (University of Otago).
The research was supported by the US National Institute on Aging (NIH AG032282; AG048895; T32 AG000029; P30 AG028716-08), the UK Medical Research Council (MRC MR/K00381X), and the New Zealand Health Research Council and Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, which supports the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit. Dan Belsky is a Fellow of the Jacobs Foundation.
To view the paper, click here.
A September NBER working paper by Randall Akee, E. Jane Costello, and colleagues describes the power of cash to offset poverty's effects on child personality and behavior. The work, based on the Great Smoky Mountains Study cohort, caught the attention of the Bloomberg View column and the Washington Post Wonkblog. NBER Working Paper (http://www.nber.org/papers/w21562.pdf), Bloomberg article ( http://bv.ms/1jTCBPa ), Washington Post blog (http://wapo.st/1P0H3YV).
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