In Brief

Most parents say they talk to their children about drugs and alcohol. But most children say they don't remember having such conversations, according to a survey of 1,249 parents of 8- to 11-year-olds and 823 children ages 8 to 15.

The survey, Talking with Kids About Big Issues, was a joint effort by Nickelodeon, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Children Now to encourage parents to talk to their kids earlier about issues such as alcohol and drugs, teasing, discrimination, violence, pressure to have sex, racism, and HIV and AIDS.

The study's objective is to educate parents on how to talk to their kids so that kids listen. The conclusion calls for parents to avoid having one "big talk," which can be stressful on parents and children. Instead, they should try to have continuous "little talks" in the car, before bedtime or at dinner.

Among the 8- to 11-year-old population, 10 percent reported kids at their schools smoke and 5 percent drink beer or alcohol, the survey found. Among the 12- to 15-year-olds, those numbers rose to 67 percent and 58 percent, respectively.

"This is a wake-up call for parents to start talking early and often with their kids," says Tina Hoff, vice president of public health information and partnerships, Kaiser Family Foundation.

The study results are part of a kit for parents that offers tools to help parents talk with their children about drug use and other important issues. For more information, or to view Talking With Kids About Big Issues, go to the Web site: www.talkingwithkids.org. Children can find additional resources at www.nick.com/your_world.

--R. BALLIE