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Almost one-quarter of parents do not think they can influence their teens’ use of alcohol, drugs or tobacco, according to a new government report.

Nine percent of parents say they did not talk to their teens about the dangers of substance abuse in the past year. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found 68 percent of parents who had not spoken to their children thought they would influence whether their child uses drugs if they had spoken to them.

“Any time is a good time to talk to your kids when you have a chance,” Peter Delany, Director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at SAMHSA, told USA Today. “But if you haven’t started talking to your kids, before school gets out is an especially good time. In the summer months, especially around holiday weekends, kids are more likely to get involved with substances.” He notes teens may more easily obtain substances when they are not attending school.

According to Delany, national surveys show that teens who believe their parents would strongly disapprove of them using substances are less likely than their peers to try them.

“Surveys of teens repeatedly show that parents can make an enormous difference in influencing their children’s perceptions of tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drug use,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release. “Although most parents are talking with their teens about the risks of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, far too many are missing the vital opportunity these conversations provide in influencing their children’s health and well-being. Parents need to initiate age-appropriate conversations about these issues with their children at all stages of their development in order to help ensure that their children make the right decisions.”

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