Parents: Do you know where your teenagers are at night? The answer is probably “no” at least once a month, according to a new survey of British adolescents. And that could get them into trouble with drugs, tobacco and alcohol, experts say.
More than a third of 15-year-old boys and a quarter of girls said their parents sometimes have no idea where they are after 9 p.m., according to the results of the Understanding Society study -- a long term study of 40,000 U.K. households funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
As part of the study, investigators asked more than 2,000 adolescents how frequently they stayed out at night without their parents knowing where they were. Such teens are more likely to smoke tobacco and pot, drink alcohol and visit bars than those who stay home at night or tell their parents where they are at night, researchers said.
Among their findings:
• About 36 percent of 15-year-old boys and 25 percent of girls said their parents have no idea where they are after 9 p.m. at least once a month;
• Some 7 percent of boys and 5 percent of girls regularly stay out late without their parents knowledge;
• 64 percent of girls who go out at night consumed alcohol more than once in the last month, compared with only 25 percent of girls who hadn't stayed out at night in the past month;
• 18 percent of 15-year-old girls who have not stayed out past 9 p.m. smoke, but this rate rises to 51 percent among girls who stay out frequently; and
• Five times more boys who stay out late without their parents’ knowledge report using pot, compared to boys who do not stay out late.
"Staying out late does not cause young people to smoke and drink, but regularly staying out late without telling their parents where they are is symptomatic of a young person with underlying problems, said researcher Dr. Maria Iacovou, with the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex. “This is revealed by the fact that 19 percent of boys regularly staying out late have behavior problems and 26 percent of girls in this group score highly for hyperactivity. We also see a third of young women in this group with self-esteem problems."