A collaborative of 14 Maryland colleges, led by public health researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has launched a new website, www.collegeparentsmatter.org, designed to serve as a resource to help parents talk with their college-age children about alcohol.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, each year college drinking is responsible for 1,825 deaths nationally among students between the ages of 18 and 24, as well as more than 690,000 assaults, 97,000 cases of sexual abuse and 599,000 unintentional injuries.
The new website is an initiative of the Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems, which is sponsored by 14 public and private colleges and universities and funded by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The site includes general tips on effective communication with college students about alcohol, in addition to guidance specific to situations often associated with high-risk drinking, such as holidays, twenty-first birthdays, spring break, and when living in student housing or with roommates for the first time. The site’s tagline is, “have the conversation.”
“We recognize these are hard discussions for parents, but they’re too critical to ignore,” said Dr. Amelia Arria, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health in College Park and co-director of the Maryland Collaborative. “Parental attitudes and advice regarding drinking are important influences on young people’s behavior that continue into the college years.”
A 2014 survey by the Collaborative of 4,209 college students across nine Maryland campuses found that students whose parents did not allow them to drink alcohol during high school were far less likely than other students to drink excessively in college. This is consistent with the conclusion of research conducted elsewhere that children of parents who communicate a clear message against underage and excessive drinking are much less likely to drink excessively in college than students with permissive parents.
“Parents must know their voices matter a great deal; that’s one of the lessons from the work of the Maryland Collaborative,” said Johns Hopkins University president and Maryland Collaborative co-chair Mr. Ronald J. Daniels. “This website is our way to respond to a need parents have expressed and to foster continuing conversations between parents and their children about alcohol and its harms.”
The Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems addresses excessive drinking among college students as a statewide public health problem, provides public health expertise and support to implement effective interventions and policies, and offers a forum for sharing information and support among colleges statewide. It is staffed by public health faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park and the Johns Hopkins University.
More information on the Maryland Collaborative may be found at www.marylandcollaborative.org.