MADD Launches Campaign to Help Parents Talk to Teens About Drinking

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Nationwide Insurance launched a campaign today to give parents of high school students the tools they need to help curb teen alcohol use. "The Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence by MADD" features its resources at

A GfK Roper Youth Report showed that 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.

The website includes everything from conversation tools, an "ask the expert" section, and parenting tips to help parents deal with the issue of underage drinking. The site also offers tips for communicating at home and information on identifying warning signs of teen alcohol abuse. Parents will also 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, Associate Vice President of Safety at Nationwide Insurance, 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, 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.

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, MADD is also working with Dr. Robert Turrisi of Pennsylvania State University to provide a handbook to parents about instigating these conversations. The handbook will be available next month and interested parents can sign up to receive the handbook on the website. The handbook has been 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 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."