Does your mother know?

Mar 04, 2012

Do your parents know where you are at night? According to 36 per cent of 15 year old boys and nearly a quarter of 15 year old girls the answer to that question, at least once a month, is no.

This is the finding from Understanding Society, a long term study of 40,000 UK households, which asked more than 2,000 10-15 year olds how frequently they stayed out past 9.00pm without their knowing where they were. The study, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), also found that staying out late without telling your parents is unrelated to factors such as family income, the number of children in the family or being in a step-family, but is related to the quality of the emotional relationship the child has with their parents and whether they live in a city or in the country.

Staying out late in adolescence is an accepted sign of growing independence, but this study finds that there is a of 15 year olds – seven per cent of boys and five per cent of girls - who regularly stay out late without their parents knowing where they are. It is within this group that the association with problem behaviours such as smoking and drinking is found. Regularly staying out late is linked with visiting pubs or bars more often; with frequency of alcohol consumption; with smoking, and with cannabis use. These associations are visible for both boys and girls, though they are more pronounced for girls in relation to smoking and drinking.

  • 64 per cent of 15 year old girls who stay out frequently past 9.00pm without their parent's knowledge consumed alcohol more than once in the last month, compared with only 25 per cent of girls who hadn't stayed out in the past month;
  • 18 per cent of 15 year old girls who have not stayed out past 9pm smoke. This rises to 51 per cent among girls who stay out frequently
  • Five times more boys who frequently stay out late without their parents knowing where they are report ever having used cannabis, compared to boys who do not stay out late
Dr Maria Iacovou from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, who analysed the data, says: "Staying out late does not cause 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. This is revealed by the fact that 19 per cent of boys regularly staying out late have behaviour problems and 26 per cent of in this group score highly for hyperactivity. We also see a third of young women in this group with self-esteem problems."

When the researchers looked at the home life of the young people they found that being in a step family, the number of family members living at home or family income does not increase the likelihood of them regularly staying out past 9.00pm without telling their parents where they are. What is important are family relationships, with children who hardly ever talk about important matters with their mothers and often quarrel with them more likely to stay out late.

Living in social housing or with a single mother also increases the probability of young people staying out without informing their parents of their whereabouts. There are differences by nationality and ethnicity: there are no meaningful differences between white and African/Caribbean youngsters, but Scottish teenagers are more likely, and those from Asian backgrounds are less likely, to stay out late.

There are also differences by the size of the community in which young people live: those living in hamlets and villages are less likely than those in towns and cities to go out at night without their parents knowing where they are. Young people who travel to school by independent means (on foot, bicycle, bus or train) are more likely than those who are taken to school by car to stay out at night.

Dr Iacovou added: "This study shows that that the factors associated with staying out late without your parents knowing where you are, are complex and cannot simply be attributed to 'bad parenting'. Geographical location plays a part too and may relate to local entertainment opportunities. Other factors such as the mode of travel to school probably relate to independence on the part of young people and trust on the part of their parents; while others, most notably family relationships, demonstrate that social and emotional deprivation also plays a role."

Explore further: Study shows readers absorb less information when reading on a Kindle

More information: The findings above are taken from the article 'Does Your Mother Know? Staying out late and risky behaviours among 10-15 year olds'.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mum's the word when it comes to children's happiness

Apr 03, 2011

As part of the study, which will follow 40,000 UK households over a number of years, young people aged between 10 to 15 years have been asked how satisfied they are with their lives. The findings indicate that a mother's ...

Working mothers and the effects on children

Jul 22, 2011

Parents struggling to combine paid work with bringing up their children now have some positive news thanks to a new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) on maternal employment and child socio-emotional ...

UK youth are happy after all?

Mar 02, 2011

As part of the study, which will follow 40,000 UK households over a number of years more than 2,000 young people aged between 10 to 15 years have been asked how satisfied they are with their lives. The findings indicate ...

Parents important for keeping adolescents off alcohol

Mar 07, 2011

Parents who are both present and engaged are the very best way of preventing teenagers from consuming large quantities of alcohol. Adolescents who smoke, stay out with their friends and have access to alcohol - from their ...

Recommended for you

Feeling bad at work can be a good thing

Aug 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Research by the University of Liverpool suggests that, contrary to popular opinion, it can be good to feel bad at work, whilst feeling good in the workplace can also lead to negative outcomes.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Tausch
1 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2012
Trust. The key word.
Parents. A pivot point.

You reach parental age due to the trust in yourself from the knowledge imparted from those involve in your parenting.

As paretns, you are the sum of everything and knowledge you need to impart to your offspring. If you withhold any knowledge you shortchange your offspring from reaching the same parental age youselves.

With 15 all knowledge from parents has been transferred and imparted ...or not.

Parents must trust the knowledge they have imparted to their offspring. Offspring are fully equipped with your imparted knowledge to handle the rest of their lives until reaching your parental age.

If you do not trust the knowledge you have imparted your offspring you will want to know where they are - regardless if your offspring are 'inclined' to 'inform' you or not about their whereabouts.
Why?
Because you do not trust what you have imparted to your offspring.

Dr. Iacovou and the research is neither honest nor sincere.