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Teens Report Parental Inattention to Their Important "Rites of Passage" Has High Price Tag

National study ties teen transitions to alcohol and drug use, sexual behavior, driving habits, and mental health

BOSTON, December 16, 2005 – Almost half of America’s high school teens report parental inattention to what they consider to be key transitions during their adolescence, according to a new SADD/Liberty Mutual study released today. The study suggests that this lack of timely parental involvement in important “rites of passage” comes with a high price tag: the potential for dangerous behaviors that can lead to illness, injury, or death as teens seek alternative milestones to demonstrate growing maturity and independence.

The sixth annual Teens Today report reveals that high school teens whose parents pay the least attention to significant transition periods (42 percent), such as puberty, school change, and key birthdays, are more likely than teens whose parents pay the most attention (18 percent) to engage in high-risk behaviors, including drinking, drug use, early sexual intercourse, and dangerous driving. They are more than twice as likely to report daily stress and appear to be twice as likely to report being depressed and bored.

“In a culture largely devoid of formal ‘rites of passage,’ and too often unobservant of the few that exist, young people may make up their own. Far too frequently they include drinking, drugging, and other potentially destructive behaviors,” said Stephen Wallace, chairman and chief executive officer of the national SADD organization. “By paying attention to the important transitions of adolescence, parents can make it less likely that poor choices will become their child’s self-constructed mileposts along the path to adulthood.”

Other important transitions cited by teens included receiving a driver’s license, obtaining their first car, graduating from high school, and dating a first boyfriend or girlfriend.

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