Back-to-School is Chance to Talk with Teens about Alcohol Risks

As children across the Lone Star State go back to school, now is the perfect time for parents to talk with them about tough issues they may encounter, including alcohol use.

Those conversations can be difficult to start, and that’s why Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is equipping parents with resources they can use to begin ongoing conversations with their kids about the dangers and consequences of alcohol.

Parents may think their child would never drink alcohol, but they could be wrong. Research shows that more than 40 percent of all 10th graders drink alcohol.[1] And, according to research by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 1 in 7 teens binge drinks, yet only 1 in 100 parents believes his or her teen does.[2]

Parents who talk with their children about alcohol can make a difference. Studies have shown that parents have the greatest influence over their kids’ decisions about alcohol, including their decisions around riding with a drinking driver. MADD developed its Power of Parents® program to give parents the information and tools they need to feel confident about talking with their children about the dangers of underage drinking and never riding with a drinking driver.

“As your kids get ready to go back to school, we encourage you to prepare them to make smart decisions about alcohol,” said MADD Texas Executive Director Jaime Gutierrez. “Our Power of Parents program can help parents begin lifesaving conversations about alcohol with their children at this crucial time of year when they may face increasing peer pressure to drink alcohol or get in the car with a driver who has been drinking.”

The effects of not having these important conversations can be devastating. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that “excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year.” According to a study conducted for the U.S. Department of Transportation, children who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash.[3] Adolescent drinkers perform worse in school; are more likely to fall behind; and have an increased risk of social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts and violence.[4]

In 2015, 101 Texas young people between the ages of 12 and 20 were killed in alcohol-related crashes, and 70 of those deaths involved drivers under 21 who had been drinking, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

TxDOT is MADD’s Texas partner on the Power of Parents program, with Nationwide serving as the national presenting sponsor. Parents can download free Power of Parents handbooks for parents of middle school and high school students and sign up for a free 20-minute online workshop at www.madd.org/powerofparents. New this year, MADD and National Supporting Partner National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA) released five topical guides pulled from the Power of Parents handbooks. These bite-sized guides focus on a specific topic related to preventing underage drinking.

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 340,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver.

MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

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