A newly released survey shows that many parents of high school students in Maine appear to underestimate their teens’ alcohol use, including the amount they drink.

The Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey that was recently released and a concurrent parent phone survey show a large gap between what parents believe about teen alcohol use and what teens report.

The Maine Office of Substance Abuse is joining forces with local coalitions to raise parental awareness about the realities of underage drinking and to provide them with back to school tips and tools to help keep their kids safe.

In the statewide phone survey of Maine parents, only 26 percent believed their high-school-age child had ever had more than a few sips of alcohol. Less than 2 percent believed their child had engaged in binge drinking.

According to the recently released MIYHS results, 65 percent of Maine high school teens said they had had at least one alcoholic drink and more than 20 percent said they had had more than five drinks in a row, defined as binge drinking. OSA, an office of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, aims to inform parents of the extent of teen alcohol use.

“With students back in school, it is a good time to remind parents that all Maine youth are at risk for underage alcohol use,” said Guy Cousins, director of Maine OSA.

OSA offers five simple, time-proven tips for preventing teen alcohol use through increased parental monitoring:

1. Limit your teen’s access to alcohol. Keep track of what and how much you have in your home, and keep it where it’s not accessible to teens.

2. Network with other parents. Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents and let them know where you stand on underage alcohol use.

3. Enforce your rules consistently. Make sure your teen understands your rules and the consequences if they are broken.

4. Check in often with your teen. Be sure you know how to reach them. Ask them where they’re going, if anyone will have alcohol and if adults will be present.

5. Be up and ready when your teen comes home. Ask them about their night and be prepared for what you will say or do if you discover they’ve been drinking.

Research shows that parental monitoring is critical in preventing underage alcohol use. In fact, high school students who don’t believe they would be caught by their parents are three times as likely to drink alcohol.

For more detailed tips and information about how to prevent underage drinking, visit mainparents.net or contact OSA toll free at 800-499-0027.