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MADD Urges Texas Parents to Send a Clear "No Alcohol" Message to Underage Children Before They Head Back to School


AUSTIN, TX -- Aug. 4, 2014: Before teens head back to school, MADD is calling on Texas parents to talk with their kids about the dangers of drinking underage – before another adult does. MADD encourages families to use resources from MADD's Power of Parents program to learn ways to empower their children to say no to alcohol.

It is particularly important for parents to engage their teens in these conversations for two reasons. First, a MADD Texas survey of Texas parents and teens found that 71 percent of teens reported that they were aware of parties where a parent or adult provided teens with alcohol, which could give teens the impression that underage drinking is okay.

Second, parents are the single biggest influence on their teen's decision not to drink. In fact, 62 percent of Texas teens say their parents are the motivating factor for them not to drink, according to a MADD survey conducted in the state. Furthermore, a national survey conducted by MADD with Nationwide Insurance (released April 2014), showed that the clearer the message from parents is, the less likely a teen will drink.

"The reality is that some adults are providing teens with alcohol. That's why it's so important for parents to be vigilant and to talk with their children about how they can say no to drinking alcohol before another adult gives them the impression that it's okay," said Jaime Gutierrez, MADD Texas Executive Director. "Nothing beats the positive influence of a parent, and it's critical that they make it clear that drinking alcohol before you're 21 is unacceptable."

Parents could help save lives by talking with their teens about the dangers of drinking and driving before their kids begin celebrating the end of summer and go back to school.

Last year in Texas, from August 15, 2013, to September 16, 2013, there were 196 alcohol-related motor vehicle traffic crashes involving underage drivers between the ages of 16 years old and 20 years old under the influence of alcohol, resulting in 103 injuries and 9 deaths (TxDOT, June 2014). Furthermore, from August 15, 2013, to September 16, 2013, 10 people between the ages of 12 years old and 20 years old were killed in alcohol-related motor vehicle traffic crashes in Texas (TxDOT, June 2014).

Additionally, over the 2013 Labor Day holiday reporting period alone, there were 392 alcohol-related motor vehicle traffic crashes in Texas involving drivers under the influence of alcohol (TxDOT, June 2014). Of those, 33 involved underage drivers between the ages of 16-20 under the influence of alcohol (TxDOT, June 2014).

"Parents can make a huge difference just by talking to their kids," Gutierrez added. "By engaging in conversations with their teens, parents can prevent the consequences of underage drinking that can lead to arrest, injury and death."

MADD encourages parents to use the Power of Parents handbook to help have these conversations with their kids. MADD's community-based parent program, Power of Parents, was developed and launched with the national sponsorship of Nationwide Insurance. MADD has partnered with Dr. Robert Turrisi from Pennsylvania State University and adapted his handbook model to reach parents of high school students. The parent handbook is the cornerstone of this community-based program and is available free to communities through the website and through 30-minute parent workshops facilitated by trained MADD staff and volunteers.

In Texas, MADD is helping parents engage in a conversation with their kids about the dangers of underage drinking by hosting workshops in local areas across the state. Contact your local MADD office to learn more about workshops. For more information about Power of Parents or to download materials, parents can visit Power of Parents.

Nationwide Insurance is the national presenting sponsor for the Power of Parents program. MADD also receives funding from and works closely with the Texas Department of Transportation as part of the state's Take the Wheel program to reduce drunk driving in Texas.