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Thanking Our Sponsors
By MADD | April 20, 2014 | Filed in: Underage Drinking , Power of Parents

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 20

Join us in thanking our generous sponsors and partners for their support of the Power of Parents® program and PowerTalk 21.




CafeMom Joins MADD to Prevent Underage Drinking
By MADD | April 19, 2014 | Filed in: Underage Drinking , Power of Parents

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 19

This year, CafeMom—the largest meeting place for moms—has joined forced with MADD to promote PowerTalk 21 and offer moms across the country the tools to talk with their teens about alcohol.


Moms who participate in CafeMom’s online discussion by sharing how they plan to talk with their teens about alcohol will be entered to win a gift card and a MADD/CafeMom prize pack.  Click here to learn more.

Ask the Experts

Earlier in the month, CafeMom asked their members to submit questions about talking with their teens about underage drinking to Pennsylvania State University Researcher Robert Turrisi, PhD, developer of the research-based Power of  Parents handbook, and MADD National President Jan Withers, whose 15-year-old daughter was killed by an underage drunk driver.

Here are the top 10 questions:

  1. My daughter is only 7 but she knows a lot about drugs and alcohol as well as what can happen. Her grandma went to jail for a DUI twice, her second was a felony because of the amount of alcohol in her system. Her grandpa was in prison for selling meth. She doesn't like alcohol and she doesn't like drugs at all. She especially doesn’t like beer in our house when we drink it. I have explained that beer is okay and alcohol is okay as long as you are responsible with it. When I was a teen, alcohol was permitted on special occasions and as long as I stayed home with family. I will explain it just like that. I am responsible with it and I don't take it too far, therefore I am allowed to do it.
  2. What age do you start talking to them about drinking? My kids are ages 8 and 10 years old. Also, how should we handle the topic when we discuss it?
  3. What's hard is, when I was 18, drinking was legal. So, my kids have always thought that the drinking age should remain at 18, even when it was raised to 21. Despite our best efforts to make our kids follow the law and not drink until the age of 21, they still did. 2 of my 3 kids ended up in the ER with blood alcohol poisoning (at different stages of their lives). Despite ALL the warnings we gave them that drinking underage IS illegal, that it IS harmful and that NEVER should they drink and drive, they still felt invincible. How DO we get through to teens? I know mine are not the only ones that still went ahead and drank anyway? Peer pressure...the voices of their parents in their heads 'warning' them becomes quite distant when they are amongst friends that are also participating. After the ER incident, we purchased a breathalyzer and when our youngest comes home at night after hanging out with friends, she knows that at any one of those nights, we may pull it out and test her. She has been warned that if there is EVER a smidgen of alcohol in her when she tests, she will be DONE driving our car. Period. There is NO grace period on this.
  4. How do you handle the topic of an alcoholic relative? Close relative like grandparent? Especially when the kids may not realize it.
  5. What age is appropriate to begin these talks?
  6. What is the biggest mistake parents make regarding this topic?
  7. My kids are still younger then teens but what can I do now to prepare them so it is easier when they are teens? 
  8. What is the best way to keep reminding teens without wearing out the message or sounding nagging?
  9. Would you consider Energy type drinks to be a risk as well?

Want to read the experts’ answers? Sign up here and we’ll send them to you when they’re ready, or you can find them here on CafeMom’s page.

PowerTalk 21 Across the Country
By MADD | April 18, 2014 | Filed in: Underage Drinking , Power of Parents

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 18

This April, in anticipation of PowerTalk 21 day, we’ve been promoting 21 Days in Support of 21. Since the 1st of April, we’ve held events, provided tips and tools, and shared stories to encourage parents and caregivers to start talking with their teens about underage drinking. 

While we’ve highlighted an event each day on our blog, we’re not done yet. There are still events going on around the country to celebrate PowerTalk 21 day, and here are just a few of them coming up:

MADD East Texas will hold a press conference on April 21st at Lufkin City Hall, where Mayor Bob Brown will sign a Mayoral Proclamation. Additionally, MADD National Teen Influencer Group member, Kassidy Brown, will appear at press event and during school presentation at Lufkin High School. The Superintendent of Lufkin ISD will also be in attendance to support PowerTalk 21.

MADD San Diego is hosting an event at the Scripps Mende Community Health Center in La Jolla, CA on April 21st. Following the event they will play the live PowerTalk 21 virtual parent workshop and provide the community with the opportunity to ask questions and visit booths from area prevention coalition partners.

Southwest Florida and Lee County Coalition for a DrugFree Southwest Florida are hosting the 1st Annual ‘Drive The Lane’ Celebrity Basketball Game on April 26th. Hometown champions, Earnest Graham and Jevon Kearse, as well as Jeff Dellenbach and Duante Culpepper, all former NFL players, will participate on the court. Local heroes, law enforcement officers, firefighters, high school principals, coaches and student athletes will be their teammates. This family-fun event will provide a platform for conversations between adults and youth about the dangers of underage drinking and demonstrate to teens that there can be fun without underage drinking.

And don’t forget to sign up for one of our free online discussions on Monday, April 21st, and learn how you can make the most of your influence and keep your teens safe in the comfort of your own home!

MADD Texas Highlights Risks of Underage Drinking at Media Event for PowerTalk 21
By MADD | April 18, 2014 | Filed in: Underage Drinking , Power of Parents

On April 17th, MADD Texas held a media event at the Austin Police Department with speakers including Austin’s Chief of Police Art Acevedo, local mother who nearly lost her son to underage drinking Belinda Lewandowski, and local representatives from MADD and Dell Children’s Hospital. In advance of the fourth annual PowerTalk 21® ─ speakers encouraged parents to start talking to their kids about the consequences teens face if they drink.

Stephen Stewart, chairman of MADD Texas’s advisory board, kicked off the event announcing national and Texas survey findings that highlight the impact parents can have on their children’s decisions about alcohol and discussed PowerTalk 21 as the day for parents to talk with their children about alcohol. Stewart highlighted the importance of a clear no alcohol message and prevention to avoid consequences and risky behavior. He also shared the good news that parents are the No. 1 influencers of their teen’s decisions about drinking.

Chief Acevedo thanked MADD for their important work in communities across Texas and discussed the dangers of underage drinking and real life-long consequences teens face from a law enforcement perspective. On a more personal note, he shared how often he stresses the importance of not drinking and driving with his 21-year-old son, who is currently attending San Diego State University.

Chief Art Acevedo speaking about the consequences of underage drinking.

The danger of drinking lies not only in the action of getting behind the wheel of car and attempting to drive, but it also impacts our community in many other ways. Stewart Williams, injury prevention manager at Dell Children’s Medical Center, addressed injuries and casualties seen in the trauma center at Dell Children’s related to underage drinking. Williams stressed that teens often are unable to recognize it’s time to stop drinking increasing their risk for severe alcohol poisoning and/or death.

Stewart Williams, injury prevention manager at Dell Children’s Medical Center.

Belinda Lewandowski, a mother who experienced her own son’s near fatal alcohol poisoning, shared her story and acknowledged that not every parent gets to bring their child home as she did. She encouraged all parents to start talking with their teens and to keep talking with them at every opportunity, creating teachable moments to reinforce the message to wait—wait until they’re 21 to drink. When they are 21 and drink, she highlighted the importance of always planning for a sober ride home.

Belinda Lewandowski shares story of her son’s near fatal alcohol poisoning.

To close the event, Jaime Gutierrez, executive director of MADD Texas, gave further insight into the Power of Parents program and resources available, including webinars on PowerTalk 21 day.

This event was part of the 21 Days in Support of 21 campaign leading up to PowerTalk 21 day, a national day encouraging parents to speak with their teens about underage drinking and why it’s important to wait until 21 to drink.


Let Them Know (Guest Blog)
By Guest Blogger | April 17, 2014 | Filed in: Underage Drinking , Power of Parents

By Debbie Sausville, whose step-daughter Lauren was killed in drunk driving crash.

I joined MADD because of my 16-year-old step-daughter, Lauren Grace Sausville.  Lauren only had her driver’s license for 3 weeks before her crash on Friday, December 3, 2004.  Each time Lauren left our house with her dad’s car, he would say to her “Lauren, don’t drink and drive.”  How many parents do that each time their child leaves the house in their family car?  Lauren’s response that night was “Dad, I’m the designated driver tonight,” which is really silly because anyone under 21 should be considered a designated drive since they aren’t supposed to drink.

We knew Lauren was going to a friend’s house that night, but what we didn’t know is that his dad was out of town.  That was an open invitation for an unsupervised, underage party; to which, our Lauren showed up with 2 cases of beer that were provided to her by a then 27-year-old man, whom she knew, whose house she’d been to for parties.

I don’t know how many beers Lauren had that night, but I do know that, before the kids decided to go to another party, her boyfriend gave her 4 shots of vodka.  She was following a friend of hers to the other party, doing 55 mph when she crested a hill and, stopped at the stop sign, waiting for her, was her friend.  Lauren, drunk and inexperienced, overreacted, hit the embankment and flipped the car on its side and skidded down the road toward her friend, who saw what was happening in his rear view mirror.  But, even if he’d been sober, he couldn’t get out of her way, so Lauren hit the right rear bumper of his Mazda with the roof of the SUV and was killed instantly from blunt trauma to her head.

Lauren was 5’4” and 110 pounds.  Her BAC was .13 and her spinal fluid was .17.  It took them an hour to cut her out of the car and a pediatrician who lived on the corner pronounced her dead at the scene.  At her funeral, her friends vowed to never forget Lauren.  But, within a month, another friend had rolled her car after being provided alcohol by an adult.  Thankfully, she lived.

What I would say to all parents is that you need to know who your child is hanging out with; ask questions like “Will the parents be there?”  Don’t take your family to a restaurant and have a drink or two and then drive them home, because they will think it’s OK for them to drive after drinking.  We parents must set an example for our children and assure them that, if they do choose to drink, there are much safer alternatives than getting behind the wheel of a car. 

If only that man had refused to buy her the beer.  If only she hadn’t done those shots.  If only there had been a cop in Lauren’s path that night to stop her.  If only she had called her dad or sister to come pick her up.  But kids think they’re invincible and everyone thinks bad things will happen to someone else and not them.  The worst “bad thing” happened to Lauren.  She chose to drink and drive and paid for her mistake with her life; and her family is paying for her choice every day.  My husband will never walk his first born down the aisle.  We will never know what Lauren could have accomplished in her life.

Talk to your kids.  Let them know you understand the temptation of underage drinking.  Let them know the consequences: losing your license and, possibly, losing your life.  Let them know that their choices in life will affect more than just them.  Let them know…

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