Homeschool and Underage Drinking

This last summer I worked at a local swimming pool. One of my coworkers was currently being homeschooled and constantly perplexed me by his ideology and behaviors. One topic that occasionally arose during our breaks together was the idea of underage drinking. While my other coworkers who were still in high school were not against underage drinking, the coworker that was homeschooled would consistently argue against it.


This got me thinking about if there was a correlation between the underage drinking of homeschooled kids and their counterparts that go to public and private schools. Although I only know one person that is homeschooled, I think that people that are homeschooled are less likely to underage drink because they have stronger family ties. Since it is usually parents that tell teens not to consume alcohol, I think that homeschooled teens who naturally form a stronger bond with their parents would take their advice more often than a teen who attends a public/private school. Hypothesis: Homeschooled teens are less likely than public and private schooled teens to consume alcohol. Now I know my whole hypothesis is based off of the assumption that homeschooled teens have a stronger connection to their parents than normal teens, but since a hypothesis is only an educated guess, I think it is worth looking into. To delve into this topic, I will start by trying to find out if my assumption is correct about homeschoolers having a strong bond with their parents. After that, I will dig deeper to test my actual hypothesis.


The first study I found used a sample of 3,000 high school students and found that homeschooled teens are less likely to drink than their public and private school counterparts. The study also found that homeschoolers who do drink are less likely to get drunk than teens in public and private schools (Thomson). This study also accounts for third variables like gender, family income, and race. It also uses an interesting connection between homeschooled teens and religion as a possible explanation for why they do not drink as much. If religion was the reason for why they do not drink as much, my hypothesis would be wrong. Another study I found does not discuss underage drinking, but goes into more detail on why homeschooled kids are more religious. This second article explains that parents who do not believe in evolution and other standard public school teachings are more likely to homeschool their kids so they are not exposed to these “lies.” The article is relevant to underage drinking by homeschooled kids because the article also provides evidence that the combination of religion and homeschooling creates a stronger parent-child bond than teens that attend public/private schools (Joyce).

After seeing two scholarly articles about homeschooling with large sections relating to religion, I started to wonder how large a role religion had to do with underage drinking and homeschooling in general. So after doing some digging I found another article that has found strong correlations between religion, conservative political ideals, and homeschooling. It shows that states with a high concentration of conservative thinking and evangelicals also have a lot of families that homeschool their children. It then continues to say that these families have stronger bonds because of homeschooling (Vieux). I have some concerns about this article. Although there is a high correlation between conservative thinking, religion, and homeschooling, that does not mean that religion and conservative thinking cause homeschooling. There could be an unseen third variable that the researches did not account for. The only solid information that came out of this study was that parents who homeschool their family form stronger bonds with their children.


Although I could not find much directly relating research to back up my hypothesis, I did find several sources that support the idea that homeschooling teens results in a stronger parent-child relationship. One source also provided evidence that teens who are homeschooled are less likely to drink than teens that attend public/private schools (Thomson). So although I was correct in my hypothesis that homeschooled teens drink less alcohol, my sources and I could not provide a definite mechanism as to why that is. I believe religion could be a contender, but as of now it is just speculation. Religion just might be associated with homeschooling and have no real influence on underage drinking. So I am left with the question of, what is the mechanism?


Works Cited:

Thomson, Robert A., and Sung J. Jang. “Homeschool and Underage Drinking: Is it More Protective than Public and Private Schools?” Deviant Behavior, vol. 37, no. 3, 2016, pp. 281. doi:10.1080/01639625.2015.1012411.

Joyce, Kathryn. “THE Homeschool APOSTATES.” The American Prospect, vol. 24, no. 6, 2013, pp. 62-65,67-71. ,

Vieux, Andrea. “The Politics of Homeschools: Religious Conservatives and Regulation Requirements.” The Social Science Journal, vol. 51, no. 4, 2014, pp. 556. doi:10.1016/j.soscij.2014.06.004.


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4 thoughts on “Homeschool and Underage Drinking

  1. Brendan Mironov


    Although I have never known anyone who has been homeschooled, I always wondered what kind of impact homeschooling has on social behavior. Like Olivia mentioned, My first instinct if your hypothesis was indeed true would be that home schooled children have less social pressure than kids who are constantly surrounded by their peers in school for seven hours a day. It would be nice if there was a study that showed evidence either supporting or rejecting your hypothesis. In Canada, there is actually a law that allows teens to drink alcohol under the supervision of adults before the legal drinking age. The reason for this is that researchers believe that kids will be less likely to abuse alcohol if their parents are supervising them.

  2. Xueyao Cao

    Nice post! I think your suggestion at the end about religious might be do something to the correlation is plausible. As you mentioned in your post, family tie would be an important element as well, but if we think about the issue other way round, there might be something that causes the public and private school kids to drink. Kids in public and private school are more likely to be influenced by others, therefore increase the opportunity to exposure to underage drinking. Also, parents would have less time to be with their kids if they go to public and private school, so they might have less attention on their kids compared to the homeschool parents, which could be another reason that causes the situation. In general, I agree with your conclusion, and it really involved a lot of thinking.

  3. Meredith Herndon

    Hi Jon! After reading your post I definitely think that any findings in these studies are probably due to confounding third variables. I do think your findings are correct in that the way in which each parent raises the child and the families religion definitely does affect how the child views taboo topics such as underage drinking; But, I also think that there’s more to it than that. Variables such as how often the child watches TV, how their friends behave, and where they live also play a factor in those types of beliefs. If a child isn’t told by their friends or TV shows that drinking is cool, then their views on it may be different since they don’t feel any pressure while a child in a traditional school may feel the pressure from their peers.

  4. Olivia Anne Browne

    Very interesting post. I never would have thought that there would be a correlation between these two things. After reading your post, It does make sense. Besides having close family ties, homeschooled kids are less exposed to peer pressure and outside influences which I think also strongly contributes to underage drinking. Your studies were very interesting. Although there was no cold hard evidence to back your hypothesis, I definitely support your claim! Great job!
    Check out this article on what kids say about underage drinking …

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