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MADD Launches Program To Help Parents Influence Teen Alcohol Behavior

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DALLAS and COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Nationwide Insurance have launched “The Power of Parents, It's Your Influence by MADD(™)” to give parents of high school students the communication tools they need to stop teen alcohol use. The program features resources at www.thepowerofparents.org.

A GfK Roper Youth Report showed 74% of kids (age 8-17) said their parents are the leading influence on their decisions about drinking. Data also shows that a zero tolerance message from parents to teens is the most effective in deterring underage drinking and it also supports the lifesaving 21 drinking age law, which is in all 50 states. (View the multimedia news release)

The website is a clearinghouse of knowledge on the topic of teen alcohol use with everything from conversation tools, an “ask the expert” section and parenting tips to help parents deal with the No. 1 youth drug problem. In addition, the website offers parents, or caretakers, tips for communicating at home and information on how to keep their community safe along with help in identifying warning signs with their kids. Parents will find suggestions for answering tough questions such as, “Should I drink in front of my teen?” or “How do I address my own underage alcohol experiences?”

“It makes a big difference when you can talk to your teen equipped with the best information and the understanding that drinking alcohol underage can lead to binge drinking, sexual assault, homicide, suicide, driving drunk and dependency,” said MADD National President, Laura Dean-Mooney. “I have an 18-year-old daughter and understand the difficulties of talking to teens about alcohol in a culture that often condones underage drinking.”

Bill Windsor, Nationwide Insurance, Associate Vice President of Safety, added, “The website is an excellent resource for parents like me to learn what works and doesn't work to keep our children alcohol free. And working for an insurance company, I see the human costs of underage drinking all the time, and the financial and emotional impact it has on the family.”

According to numerous studies, compared with non-drinking classmates, teens who drink are more likely to: die in a car crash, get pregnant, flunk school, be sexually assaulted, have problems with alcohol later in life and take their own life through suicide. The goal is to change communities by working with the number one influencers on teens: parents or caregivers. Some parents actively sanction alcohol use in controlled settings, not knowing that this tends to lead to heavier drinking by teens. Others want to keep their children alcohol-free, but don't know the most effective ways to answer common questions teens have about drinking.

In addition to thepowerofparents.org, MADD is also working with Dr. Robert Turrisi of Pennsylvania State University to provide a handbook to parents about how to have the conversations about alcohol. The handbook will be available next month and interested parents can sign up on the website today. The handbook has shown to reduce drinking significantly among college students and Dr. Turrisi has adapted it for use among parents of high school students.

Dr. Turrisi said, “As a parent and a scientist, I am proud to be a partner with MADD and completely support the work being done on thepowerofparents.org. MADD's goals of improving the lives of children and families are noble and their efforts to achieve these goals draw on the best of what prevention science has to offer. I strongly believe that MADD's efforts will tip the balance of the scales in the favor of families in the fight against underage drinking and drunk driving.”

MADD's program The Power of Parents, It's Your Influence(™) is supported by National PTA, the largest child advocacy association in the country, who will share these resources with its members. The program is also supported by National Presenting Sponsor Nationwide Insurance and Contributing Sponsor Volkswagen.

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