Dr. David Jernigan is a professor in the Department of Health Law, Policy and Management at the Boston University School of Public Health, and an advisor for the World Heath Organization. He visited GPS and the DuPage Health Department to share information with parents, youth-serving professionals and school staff, regarding youth alcohol use on December 11, 2019.
The majority of his research is in regards to how marketing and media influence youth to use alcohol. The U.S. is one of the most non-restrictive countries when it comes to alcohol marketing and teens are inundated with pro-alcohol ads multiple times a day on multiple platforms, including social media. Additionally, Dr. Jernigan explained that research shows that youth will model their drinking behaviors off of their parents. Monkey see, monkey do. It is imperative that parents model healthy behavior when it comes to drinking and substance use for the well-being of their kids. He explained that parents who have a lax attitude around drinking, or attempt to “teach” their kids how to drink responsibility, are actually doing a disservice and those kids end up having more substance use related issues once they get to college. A parenting style that is warm but restrictive, meaning parents have clear rules and set restrictions for their kids, is proven to be the most effective style of parenting and leads to youth substance use prevention.
Health department official shares GPS takeaway
Jordan Esser, community initiative coordinator for the DuPage County Health Department, a co-sponsor of the event, shared the following takeaway: “Alcohol is the No. 1 abused substance with teens, according to data collected through the Illinois Youth Survey for DuPage County. Youth alcohol use can have devastating impacts and is linked to the three leading causes of deaths among young people: motor vehicle crashes, homicide and suicide. High youth use rates of alcohol can be attributed to alcohol being readily available, socially acceptable and the fact that the U.S. is one of the least restrictive countries when it comes to marketing alcohol products. Teens are inundated with pro-alcohol ads multiple times a day on multiple platforms, including social media. Even with all of these outside factors, the single biggest influence on young people’s drinking is adults around them drinking. Thus, it is imperative that parents’ model healthy behavior when it comes to drinking. Dr. Jernigan explained that parents who have a lax attitude toward alcohol, or even who attempt to “teach” their kids how to drink responsibility by providing alcohol to "supervised" events in the home, are causing harm – and those teens will have a higher potential for alcohol use-related issues once they get to college. A responsible parenting style is one where parents communicate clear rules and set limits.”
To view Take Five videos with Jernigan and others, click here. There is a five-minute video for teens and one for adults.