Parents with questions about how to protect their teens from the dangers of alcohol and other drugs can now receive research-based advice from videos featuring Robert Turrisi, a Penn State professor of biobehavioral health with more than 35 years of experience in researching underage drinking.
Turrisi created the weekly “Coffee with Rob” video series this month in partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), to reach parents in a way that can fit into parents’ busy schedules.
In the first two videos, Turrisi shared with viewers advice on rule-setting and high school graduation celebrations. Viewers can access the videos on the MADD Facebook page, and they can ask questions in the comments section of the Facebook post.
Turrisi said that the question he gets asked most often by parents of teens is regarding the “one thing” they could do to make their kids safer.
His response is to delay alcohol intake — even sips — as long as possible. “Don’t yield, and definitely don’t give it to them.”
“Research in the U.S., Europe and Australia shows that when teens drink even the smallest amounts, they are more likely to have alcohol-related problems later in life,” he explained. “They are more likely to drink more frequently, in heavier amounts, and are more likely to combine alcohol with other drugs.”
Parents of middle school and high school students looking for additional resources may also download the free Power of Parents materials authored by Turrisi, which empower parents to have ongoing, intentional conversations about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking. They are available in English and Spanish, and have been reaching a new family every 15 minutes for the past eight to 10 years, according to MADD.
Turrisi is also an affiliate faculty member of Penn State’s Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, a worldwide leader in using research to create programs and inform policies that promote the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.