Alcohol use is hopefully one area where there would be no competition. Studies have found, though, that rural teenagers drink more alcohol than their city-living counterparts.
The truth is that most young people that drink alcohol do not get it by sneaking into bars or other venues where adults can legally purchase it. Instead, most young people get alcohol from their own homes or at parties where it has been provided by friends.
In rural areas alcohol is actually more accessible, and part of this may be due to parental attitudes about drinking. Interviews of young people in rural areas found that they perceived less risk of drinking than those that lived in cities, and they also perceived less parental disapproval of drinking.
In other words, young people that live in the country didn't see that drinking would affect their health, and they didn't think that their parents minded as much if they drank alcohol, either. This underscores two important facts.
The image of drinking a nice, cold beer after a long day's work could be a prevalent, but deceptive, image for children and teens growing up in the rural and agricultural areas of the country. If the image of drinking is an overall positive one, free from information about the health risks of alcoholism, young people could be growing up with a skewed image of how dangerous of a drug alcohol can actually be.
If parents in rural areas are drinking more heavily or otherwise giving children the idea that drinking alcohol isn't a big deal, than more teenagers are going to become drinkers themselves.
The solution, then, may be a two-pronged approach. First, rural schools need to devote more time and attention to effective drug education that includes information on alcohol abuse. Helping children and teenagers understand the risks associated with drinking can help them make good decisions the next time they're invited to an after-homecoming tegger.
Second, parents in rural areas need to take a more active role in educating their own children and helping them make intelligent decisions about drug and alcohol use. This may take time, as it will entail an actual cultural shift of viewpoint. If parents in rural areas actually do not disapprove of drinking as much as parents in cities, they need to get educated themselves before they can educate their children.
To make this happen, schools and other community groups can devote their resources towards not only giving children drug education, but also calling in parents and sponsoring initiatives to give parents the true data about alcoholism.