Twelve percent of parents have never talked to their kids about the risks of drug use, up from six percent six years ago, according to a new survey conducted by the Partnership for a Drug Free America. This trend has many concerned, especially because more parents have been found to underestimate their children’s risk for drug abuse.

“Today’s parents see less risk in drug use, and they admit there’s significantly less communication going on with their own teens,” says Tom Hedrick of the Partnership, a nonprofit anti-drug group. “Along with the changing drug threats that parents are simply unaware of, we have a very dangerous situation developing.”

Many parents are unaware that many of the drugs now popular with teens are household items such as cough syrup and painkillers that most adolescents have easy access to. Today’s parents of teens are also of a generation more likely to have experimented with drugs than any generation before. This can make parents view drugs as harmless because they didn’t seem to suffer any ill effects. Parents might also be ashamed of their own history of drug abuse and not want to bring up the subject at all.

Although most parents do talk to their kids about drugs, the conversations are often not in depth and not often enough to effectively deter drug use, researchers believe.
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