Information for Parents
Do you know...
- Among high school students, the percent who have ever gambled (87%) exceeds the percent who have ever used alcohol or drugs (67%).
- Students who gamble excessively are more likely to abuse substances and vice versa.
- The rate of problem gambling among high school students significantly exceeds the rate for adults.
Additional Warning Signs for Teens
- Carries or possesses gambling materials (dice, playing cards, scratch tickets)
- Missing money or possessions in the house
- Steals from family to get money for gambling
- Uses ‘other money’ (lunch, bus) to gamble; weight loss my become evident
- Personality changes: frequent mood swings
- Gambles to escape worries, frustration or disappointments
- Displaying unexplained wealth
- Unusual interest in sports scores and point spreads over favorite teams and who wins
Some Other Important Teen Facts
- 4-8% of adolescents presently have a serious gambling problem with another 10-14% of adolescents at risk for developing a serious gambling problem.
- The average age at which problem gamblers had their first contact with any sort of gambling was 10 years old.
- A recent study found that more than 50 percent of kids who gamble reported problems like over-spending. Teens record that they can win/lose as much as $150 to $200 a night.
- A recent nationwide study estimates 2.9 million young people are gambling on cards on a weekly basis.
- 84% of parents do not object to their children gambling.
- 61% of teens who gamble do it with their parent’s permission.
What can parents do?
Below is a list of suggestions for parents to help protect and educate their children and their communities.
- Examine your own attitudes and behaviors concerning gambling.
- Learn the facts about gambling: age restrictions, types of gambling, and gambling terminology.
- Educate yourself on the warning signs of problem gambling and be cognizant of changes in behavior that might indicate a problem.
- Talk to your children about the risks associated with gambling.
- Be responsible role models; practice what you preach.
- Help form a collaborative network among parents, teachers, youth workers, coaches and other role models in the community to raise awareness and support healthy gambling behaviors.
- Request that schools provide education about gambling and problem gambling, just as they do for substance abuse.
What can high schools do?
- Establish and enforce policies regarding gambling in school for students and staff.
- Evaluate those who break school polices for potential gambling problems.
- Eliminate the following: Las Vegas Night type activities on prom and graduation nights, gambling-related fundraisers, and sports pools associated with staff, parent, and student activities.
- Incorporate a module on gambling and problem gambling into the Health and Education Curriculum.
- Run stories on problem gambling and/or recovering gamblers in the school newspaper.
- Use school-based drama groups to teach about gambling in an entertaining form.
- Create or include information resources for a student health fair.
- Conduct a poster/video contest to create a positive message about gambling and problem gambling prevention.
What do we know so far? Research has shown that adolescent problem gamblers:
- ...are more likely to be boys but girls seem to be catching up.
- ...are overly represented as a group compared to adult problem gamblers.
- ...are greater risk takers in general.
- ...often show signs of lower self esteem.
- ...tend to report higher rates of depression.
- ...often gamble to escape problems.
- ...are more likely to develop an addiction(s).
- ...seem to be more excitable and outgoing.
- ...are more anxious and less self-disciplined.
- ...are at greater risk for suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.
- ...often replace their regular friends with gambling acquaintances.
- ...have poor general coping skills.
- ...report beginning gambling at an early age (approximately 10).
- ...often recall an early big win.
- ...report more daily hassles and major traumatic life events.
- ...often have parents, relatives, or friends who gamble.
- ...are more likely to be delinquent and involved in criminal activities to acquire money.
- ...develop problems with family and friends.
- ...move quickly from just gambling with friends and family to problem gambling.
- ...show decreased academic performance.
Taken from the International Center for youth Gambling Problems www.education.mcgill.ca/gambling
Below is a quick questionnaire you be might have your teen complete if you are worried about a gambling problem. This not a diagnostic tool but it may give you some idea if further help is needed!
- Is gambling the most exciting activity in your life?
- Do you miss school, activities, or other events due to gambling?
- Has anyone expressed concern about your gambling?
- Do you lie to your friends or family about your gambling?
- Do you borrow money to gamble?
- Have you sold personal belongings to get money to gamble?
- Have you stolen from your family, friends, or employer to gamble or to pay back gambling debts?
- After losing, do you try to win your money back by gambling?
- Are you preoccupied with thoughts of gambling?
- Have you tried to stop gambling but can't?