Stanford urges parents to talk to their students about high-risk drinking

Last year, Stanford created an advisory group of parents to help it understand how to curb risky drinking among Stanford students. Among the group’s suggestions was a letter written to the parents of incoming students, asking them to talk to their kids about drinking expectations. It appears to have worked.

Ralph Castro, the director of the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education, reflects on the success of parent outreach, combined with other initiatives sponsored by his office, in discouraging risky drinking among Stanford students.

What advice did you get from parents serving on the university’s parent advisory committee last year?

They stressed how important it was for the university to directly communicate with parents about alcohol. As a result, we wrote a letter to parents encouraging them to talk to their son or daughter about alcohol before school started. The letter, which we again sent out this year, included information on questions to ask and resources to consult. Feedback on the letter was very positive, and parents appeared to appreciate our commitment to reducing high-risk drinking and its consequences.

Did parents have that discussion with their children?

Yes, we have found that more than 70 percent of frosh had a conversation with their parent or guardian before matriculating.

What is the evidence that those discussions work?

There is a growing body of scientific literature that shows that parental conversations and involvement can have protective effects. Students who have conversations with their parents or guardians tend to experience fewer alcohol-related issues.

What advice do you give to parents to help them talk to their children about alcohol use?

Be open, frank and honest with your son or daughter. Provide clear and consistent expectations for them. Don’t be afraid to discuss these topics, or your experiences, with your student. Things have changed since your time in college. High-risk drinking activities such as rapid hard-liquor consumption are different now. It’s important to have these conversations, not just once, but frequently during their time here.

Read the entire article in Stanford Report.