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CHICAGO – New survey results from Lurie Children’s Hospital shed light on what parents think they know when it comes to their children’s risky behaviors.

Drugs and alcohol are some of the very top concerns parents have for their children. Most say they have clear expectations in their households, but are the tweens and teens following the rules?

Lurie Children’s pediatrician Dr. Matthew Davis and his colleagues polled parents from 77 different communities in Chicago. Two-thirds said they would know if their teen drank and drove.

More than half claimed they would know if their child went to a party where alcohol was served to minors or rode in a vehicle driven by a teen under the influence.

But the numbers don’t add up.

“We know from other surveys that well less than half of kids, 10th graders in this case, thought their parents knew what they were up to when they were hanging out with their friends,” Dr. Davis said.

Dr. Davis said starting the conversation early in childhood is key to maintaining open communication as kids grow. And so is talking to other parents.

“We also know from the survey that few parents said that had talked to the parents of their kids’ friends about those types of behaviors. We encourage parents to have those conversations as well b/c it could be a great way to keep more kids safe if parents work together to set these clear expectations to avoid risky behavior,” Dr. Davis said.

The pandemic is posting another challenge, isolation can lead to experimentation.

“For tweens and teens to try things like alcohol and drugs is something we see commonly among adolescents, they are experimenting and trying out diff things in their lives, but we know the dangers of alcohol and drugs and it’s especially important now for parents to emphasize what their expectations and rules are so kids don’t get into trouble with these substances,” Dr. Davis said.

The findings are from Voices of Child Health in Chicago. The survey is conducted three times a year with parents of kids 11 and older.