The Grapevine

Kids Of ‘Highly Educated’ Parents Are At High Risk Of Binge Drinking

Parents and the government have been trying to battle the opioid crisis and vaping epidemic across the U.S. These issues put many young Americans at risk of health problems, ranging from mild to serious conditions. But there is another major issue that is getting less attention.

Binge drinking is now affecting more high school and college students in the country. High exposure to alcohol also contributes to other issues, including sexual assault. 

CBSN Originals new documentary, "Drinking Culture: American Kids and the Danger of Being Cool," explores how binge drinking affects young Americans. It highlights the impact of economic privilege on teens and how educated parents play a role in the issue. 

Studies showed that the kids raised in suburban communities are more likely to binge drink. This is because of high rates of adults drinking in such communities, according to Laurence Steinberg, a professor of psychology at Temple University. 

“They're going to model that behavior," Steinberg said. "They also may have access to alcohol from the alcohol that their parents have purchased and have at home.”

The households where two parents have college degrees or secondary degrees also have higher risk of alcohol use in kids. Highly educated commonly spend time at work or traveling, leaving their kids alone or less supervised. 

Julie Fenn, a clinical social worker in the Massachusetts public school system, cited that the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System shows that across the U.S., the communities with higher socioeconomic status have higher rates of alcohol abuse. 

“So, you know, we often think that money and privilege is a protective condition,” Steinberg said. “But I think in this case, it may be associated with actually more dangerous behavior."

Another factor to consider is race. Steinberg said African American kids have lower risk of binge drinking compared to other people at their age. However, white kids and Latino kids are more likely to consume alcohol.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2017 that 15.7 percent of white teens binge drink at least once in the previous 30 days. The agency found 14 percent of Hispanic high school students consumed high amounts of alcohol while there were 5.6 percent of black teens.

Steinberg explained that socialization and culture potentially contributed to the young Americans’ alcohol problems. He cited that African American communities commonly do not promote alcohol consumption. 

Teens Studies showed that the kids raised in suburban communities are more likely to binge drink because of high rates of adults drinking in such communities. Pixabay