Perceived parental practices related to alcohol use by 16 to 18 year old adolescents in the public high schools in the Emawaleni District of KwaZulu-Natal.
Introduction: A quantitative cross-sectional study was undertaken to assess whether parenting practices regarding alcohol use (as perceived by 16-18 year old adolescents) are determinants of alcohol use by the adolescents. Parental practices include supervision, emotional support and parenting alcohol socialization behaviours that could influence adolescents' alcohol use behaviour. Aim: The aim of the study was to investigate the influence of perceived parental practices and alcohol use behaviour among 16-18 year old adolescents in public high schools in the Emawaleni District, KwaZulu-Natal. Methods: A cross-sectional study design was used. Self-administered questionnaires provided data from 704 adolescents enrolled in public high schools Data were processed using SPSS 15.0. (SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois). Scale reliability analyses were conducted and frequencies on all items calculated. Chi-square tests were used to assess associations between adolescent alcohol use and demographic variables. Logistical regression analyses explored the associations between the different demographic variables, adolescents' perceptions of parental practices and alcohol use behaviours. Results: The results indicated that the most significant others that affect the adolescents' drinking behaviour are parents (51.3%) and peers (33.8%). It was revealed that peers (40.1%) and parents (12.9%) offered the first alcoholic drink to adolescents. Age of alcohol use initiation was found to be as early as 13 years. It was found that mothers who communicated the risks of drinking (84.2%), and it is also mothers (36.9%) who inform adolescents of safe drinking practices. Eighty-two percent of parents are aware of adolescents' whereabouts. Regarding peer connectedness, 86% of the adolescents who drank alcohol felt that they could depend on peers when drunk and 77% of adolescents reported that they discouraged their peers from getting drunk. The best predictors of adolescent alcohol use were: younger age, being male, race (White), religiosity, parental and peer alcohol use. Discussion: The evidence demonstrated a basic understanding of the processes by which parents influence adolescent alcohol use behaviours. Although the study showed a stronger parental protective factor than reported in other studies, the influence of the peers in the adolescents' development is also consistent with that of other studies. Recommendations: Adequate interventions for adolescents are urgently needed to improve parenting skills in order to prevent risky adolescent alcohol use behaviours.