Vermont Colleges Engage Parents in Effort to Reduce Binge Drinking

Several colleges in Vermont are engaging parents in their effort to reduce binge drinking, according to the Associated Press. Students tend to drink less when their parents are aware of what they are doing, says Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen.

“Research has shown that continued parental monitoring of college students reduces alcohol consumption and that students’ perceptions of their parents’ awareness also moderates consumption and frequency of use in freshman,” Chen said. ‘‘We know that the first six weeks is really vital for our students.’’

According to Chen, 54 percent of college students in Vermont admit to high-risk drinking10 percent higher than the national average. The state has the second-highest rate in the nation of binge drinking among 18- to 25-year-olds.

Johnson State College in Johnson, Vermont sends a letter to parents when students violate alcohol rules. Administrators hope students will talk with their parents before the letter arrives.

“It took a lot of conversations with parents on the phone, with parents during summer orientations and fall orientations for them to realize [drinking] doesn’t have to be a part of the college experience, and it doesn’t have to be a rite of passage,” said Michele Whitmore, an associate dean of students at Johnson State College.

Parents of students at the University of Vermont receive emails about activities that could be likely to involve drinking, including certain weekend events. The school begins sending the emails before students arrive. “We have learned that when we provide resources early and often, it matters,” said Patience Whitworth, assistant dean of students.

About four out of five college students drink alcohol, according to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. About half of college students who drink also consume alcohol through binge drinking. An estimated 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.