The Importance of Family Dinners 2007 | CASAColumbia

The Importance of Family Dinners IV

The Importance of Family Dinners IV

Published: September 2007

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Background

CASAColumbia has surveyed thousands of American teens and their parents to identify situations and circumstances that influence the risk of teen substance abuse. What we have learned is that parental engagement in children’s lives is fundamental to keeping children away from tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and that parents have the greatest influence on whether their teens will choose not to use substances. Our surveys have consistently found a relationship between children having frequent dinners with their parents and a decreased risk of their smoking, drinking or using other drugs, and that parental engagement fostered around the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help parents raise healthy, drug-free children. Simply put: frequent family dinners make a big difference.

Method

On behalf of CASAColumbia, QEV Analytics, a national public opinion research firm, conducted a nationally representative telephone-based survey of 1,063 teens, ages 12 to 17 (554 boys, 509 girls), and 550 parents of teens, of whom 292 were parents of teens we interviewed.

Results

This report found that 59% of teens said they had dinner with their families at least 5 times a week. Compared to teens who had frequent family dinners (5 or more per week), those who had infrequent family dinners (2 or fewer per week) were 3.5 times as likely to have abused prescription drugs, 3.5 times likelier to have used an illegal drug other than marijuana or prescription drugs, 3 times likelier to have used marijuana, more than 2.5 times likelier to have used tobacco, and 1.5 times likelier to have drunk alcohol, according to this survey.

This report also explored the relationship between family dinners and academic performance, as well as other substance abuse prevention statistics.

A Note on the Language
In 2012, CASAColumbia stopped using words like “drug abuse”/“drug abuser” because the terms are imprecise and have negative connotations. Instead, we now distinguish between “addiction” (clinical criteria for the disease) and “risky use” (use of addictive substances in ways that increase the risk of harm but do not meet criteria for addiction). Some reports and other publications published prior to 2012 still contain this language.

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Further information

Read the press release.