Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21™ is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence™ to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 10 minutes at 1-877-MADD-HELP.

Together, these programs ensure that MADD achieves its lifesaving mission.

Click It or Ticket—Seatbelts Save Lives

Fact: wearing your seat belt is one of the best ways to protect yourself from a drunk driver on the road. And with this weekend being Memorial Day weekend, we know there is a good chance more drunk drivers will be on the road – in 2013, 146 people were killed in drunk driving crashes over Memorial Day weekend.

If every person was properly restrained on every trip, thousands of additional lives could be saved by seat belts each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half of the 21,132 people killed in crashes on our nation’s roadways in 2013 were not wearing their seat belts.

And it’s just as important to buckle up in the back seat. Too many people wrongly believe they are safe in the back seat unrestrained. Half of all front-seat occupants killed in crashes in 2012 were unrestrained, but 61 percent of those killed in back seats were unrestrained.

Regardless of vehicle type, time of day, or seating position, wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to protect yourself in a crash. That’s why through May 31st, law enforcement officers will be stepping up enforcement and cracking down for NHTSA’s 2015 Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign.

The national Click It or Ticket mobilization has increased seat belt use and saved many lives over the years, but there is still much more that can be done. High-visibility enforcement and encouraging loved ones to buckle up can turn lives lost into lives saved.  Learn more about the Click It or Ticket mobilization at, and help spread the word!

So this Memorial Day weekend (and every day of the year), make sure to designated a non-drinking driver if your plans include alcohol, and always buckle up.

Grads: #ProtectUrSelfie

It’s officially graduation season. But before you take off the cap and gown and head to out with friends to celebrate, take a moment to think about your future. As a teen, you have so much to look forward to – college, pursuing a career, having a family. And the choices you make today will impact your entire life.

Teen drinking can have very bad consequences, and not everyone is doing it. In fact, less than 30 percent of teens have had a drink in the past month. And only 20 percent of teens binge drink. That means that the majority don’t.

You have the power to #ProtectUrSelfie by pledging not to drink alcohol before age 21. Join the Power of (You)th® and take the #ProtectUrSelfie pledge in your cap and gown with the caption:

I pledge to not drink alcohol before 21 or use other drugs b/c my future is worth it! #protecturselfie

Congratulations, graduates! The future is in your hands.

Get MADD's research-based teen booklet to learn how you have the power to stop underage drinking.  

Show Thanks to Our Heroes in Law Enforcement

Next week is National Police Week, and we hope you’ll join us in thanking the officers who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe on the roadways.

Their sacrifices often go unnoticed… but today, we’re saying ‘thank you’ to these brave heroes. Click here to show your gratitude by signing your name on a special e-card that we’ll present to law enforcement at the end of National Police Week.

High-visibility law enforcement plays a huge role in the fight to end drunk driving. Techniques such as sobriety checkpoints and impaired driving crackdowns have been proven to reduce drunk driving deaths by 20%.

The men and women who enforce these measures put themselves in danger every day to keep us safe. And sometimes they pay the ultimate price—more than 40% of officers killed in the line of duty are killed in traffic crashes. But despite the risk, these heroes make the sacrifice—and make a real difference.

Thank you for showing your support to the brave men and women who protect us every day.

Why We’re Here: Kaely Camacho

Early in the morning on Friday, April 13, 2012, Kirk Camacho was driving his two teenage daughters, Bree Ann and Kaely, to school. As the girls slept, Bree Ann, 16, in the front seat and her younger sister Kaely, 13, in the back, a drunk driver with a blood alcohol level of three times the legal limit was speeding down a road designated only for busses. He ran a red light and plowed into the Camachos’ minivan at about 100 miles per hour.

The collision tore the minivan in half. Bree Ann and her father survived with injuries, but Kaely, a bright and popular middle school cheerleader, was killed.

After Kaely’s death, there was a huge outpouring of support for the family from the community. In fact, a year later, the street in front of the middle school she attended was re-named in Kaely’s honor.

Soon after the crash, the Miami-Dade police department contacted MADD Miami and asked them to reach out to the Camacho family. They were connected with local MADD Victim Advocates Sally Matson and Helen Witty, who provided emotional support and assistance through the trying legal process.

Kaely and Bree Ann

Now, the Camacho family works with MADD to share Kaely’s story in hopes that no other family has to experience this heartbreak. They speak at several events, including school outreach and law enforcement recognition events. In fact, Kaely’s sister, Bree Ann, changed her major to communications because she is so passionate about sharing her sister’s story and doing everything she can to put an end to drunk driving.

“We were just beginning to realize how similar we were to one another,” Kaely’s sister Bree Ann says. “I will never see Kaely in this world again... because a drunk driver took her from me.”

Both Kaely’s mother, Angie, and step-mother, Vicky, have been very successful fundraisers for the Miami Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash. And this year, “Kaely’s Wingmen” was the top fundraising team at the event, raising nearly $9,000 in Kaely’s honor.

PowerTalk 21 Across the Country

On Monday, April 20th, MADD San Diego partnered with North Coastal Prevention Coalition and Boomers in Vista, CA for a 420 Remix and PowerTalk 21 event to celebrate living drug free and sober. The park was opened to surrounding middle and high school students with a parent chaperone for a free day at the park. At the event, MADD hosted Power of Parents workshops in both Spanish and English, as well as provided a booth with educational and awareness materials. A special thanks to Nationwide Insurance rep Susan J McArthur who joined program specialist Alicia Espinoza at the event. 

Community leaders gathered in the Rio Grande Valley to urge parents to download the Power of Parents handbook in advance of PowerTalk 21 day, April 21st, the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol.  MADD South Texas Program Specialist Rudy Rodriguez was joined at the event by Melissa Alviar of Uniting Neighbors in Drug Abuse Defense (UNIDAD); Olivia Benford, parental engagement director for the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District (PSJA ISD); Officer Irving Segura of the Pharr Police Department; and Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Octavio Saenz. Read more on the MADD Texas blog.

North Carolina

MADD North Carolina joined Holly Springs High School’s PTSA, Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina Police Departments, NC State Highway Patrol, and the Forensics Tests of Alcohol Branch to huge safety event focusing on underage drinking prevention and teen driving safety. The event reached over 800 students and kept participants engaged with a number of stations including a Power of You(th) exhibit, safe driving simulators, BATmobile tours and texting & driving golf kart experiences. Students also signed MADD’s Power of You(th) prom pledge. Students that completed these stations received a bag of goodies to further encourage them to make good decisions during their prom weekend and beyond.


The highly anticipated second annual Drive the Lane Celebrity Basketball Game organized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Southwest Florida was held on April 18th. The basketball game celebrated PowerTalk 21 and Power of Parents, MADD’s national program to equip parents and youth with the resources to start talking about underage drinking. The event kicked off with an autograph session and activities to start talking about the complex issue of underage drinking.  A red carpet step and repeat encouraged fans to take selfies in support of MADD’s #ProtectUrSelfie campaign.  A graffiti wall and chalk art installation gave fans a creative outlet to share their commitment to not drink before 21.  And, volunteers were on hand to distribute Power of Parents handbooks and materials as well as Power of You(th) booklets and wristbands. Read more on the Southwest Florida blog.

Students Opposing Substances (Guest Blog)

By Stormey Barton, a member of the MADD National Teen Influencer Group

Howdy, I'm Stormey Barton, Founder of Students Opposing Substances (SOS) and a member of the MADD National Teen Influencers. Parents and kids both staying on the same page about alcohol requires effort and commitment. From my own experiences I have seen that it is much more difficult for me to build trust with my parents if they have no idea about where I am, who I'm with, and what I'm up to after school and on the weekends. 

Communicating expectations every day or night before the kid leaves the house is vital. And that is something that was important for me to capture in my program when I was starting SOS. By signing the contract to join SOS, parents and students are able to talk about alcohol and the expectations for drinking are set. SOS has helped me, and over 1,000 other students bring up the white elephant in the room and set clear rules of the house.

For more information about SOS or how to bring SOS to your school, visit our website at

Victims Again

It was 9:30 p.m. on November 18, 2011. The traffic light had just turned green as Fran and Steve Granado moved through the intersection in Sierra Vista, Arizona, when their pickup truck was violently hit from behind. The blow caused the backs of their heads to hit the glass in the truck’s rear window, shattering in into pieces.

Fran recalls thinking, “I thought we had been shot at.”

The couple was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital. Fran suffered trauma to her head and a blow to the left side of her face. Steve, who had to be loaded into his ambulance on a stretcher, had sustained injuries to his neck, lower back and left leg. They were released the next morning with orders to attend physical therapy for their injuries.

The driver who hit Fran and Steve was charged with a DUI the night of the crash. However, Fran and Steve were shocked to find out that the police report indicated the Granados had sustained only minor injuries. Their injuries were much more than “minor.”

After several weeks of physical therapy and no word about the case from authorities, Fran decided to go to the police station to try and get some answers. She was told they could not give her any information because the case was pending a grand jury. Fran periodically checked back and each time was told the same thing. When she asked if she could meet with the police officer in charge of her case, she was denied. They waited to be notified of the court hearing but no word came.

More than a year had passed and Fran and Steve were exhausted from trying to get justice for what happened to them. Their attorney couldn’t get any answers either, and the Granados grew frustrated. They were victims of the crash, and now, as Fran shared, “we were victims of our injuries and victims of neglect [of justice].”

Then, Fran contacted MADD Arizona and spoke with Victim Services Manager Jason Frazier about their case. He tried tirelessly to get justice for the Granados, and was eventually able to find out that the offender in their case had already been to court. She had plea bargained her case and had been sentenced. Their case was closed and could not be reopened. The Granados had been denied their right to appear in court to give their statement to the judge. They were completely left in the dark.

This past November – three years after the crash – the Granados were granted mediation on their case. Fran shared that she is still in disbelief that all this has happened. The offender in their case never showed any remorse for the crash she caused that severely injured the Granados, while Fran and Steve are reminded daily of that night. They both have anxiety. Fran has headaches daily, experiences pain in her shoulders and has difficulty walking for long periods. Steve has not been able to work full time since the crash and no longer drives. He is now seeing a psychologist to help him deal with the trauma of that night.

“We are still struggling with all the emotional damage of that night, even though it cannot be seen,” says Fran.

The couple says that MADD has been the only organization who has been able to shed light on their situation. Steve’s advice to anyone who is a victim of a drunk or drugged driving crash: “Call MADD first.”

This week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to recognize those who have been impacted by crime and renew our efforts to make sure these victims receive justice.  This year’s theme, Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims, emphasizes the role of the entire community, individually and collectively, as we support victims of crime and empower them to direct their own recovery.  You can help by becoming a MADD Victim Advocate or by spreading the word about MADD Victim Services.

New Online Tools for Victims

MADD is one of the largest victim services organizations in the country, working to ensure that victims' rights are maintained, as well as providing support for victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving. We have more than 1,000 trained victim advocates nationwide, as well as our 24-hour Help Line available to provide victims with the support they need, when they need it most. And we want to serve as many victims as possible...until there are no more victims left to serve.

That’s why this week, in honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we are pleased to announce two new online tools for victims and survivors to find support.

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We just created a new Facebook Group exclusively for victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving.
The purpose of this new Group is to provide an online forum for victims and survivors to connect, share, and seek support. If you are a victim or survivor of drunk and/or drugged driving, please join our MADD Victim Services Facebook Group by clicking here and asking to join

Please remember this Group is intended only for victims and survivors. If you are not a victim or survivor, we hope you will join us on our Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Facebook page.

We are also proud to announce that we have implemented a new online chat feature on our website, which provides another way for victims of drunk and drugged driving crashes to contact MADD Victim Services when they are in need of assistance. The live chat can be found on the MADD homepage and the Victim Services page and is generally available Monday through Friday, during regular business hours. If for some reason a Victim Services staff member is unavailable, you can leave a message in the chat box and your question will then be emailed and answered by a Victim Services Advocate as soon as they are available to respond.

If you are a victim or survivor, we hope you will take advantage of these new healing tools to connect with other victims and survivors, or if you are in need or support. You can also help us spread the word about these new tools to any victims or survivors you know.

Justice for Taylor

Taylor Pirc was only four years old when she was killed by a repeat drunk driving offender. Taylor and her Grandma were on their way to take food to Taylor’s great-grandmother, who was sick. They were driving through a busy intersection when a car coming from the other direction and swerving from lane to lane turned too soon. He hit the median and came down on the back half of the car where Taylor was sitting. 

After the crash, the drunk driver was convicted, but he immediately appealed. The conviction was overturned due to a technicality and a re-trial was scheduled. The re-trial was declared a mistrial, but an appellate court deemed it was possible to again re-try. Now, close to six years later, it went to trial once again, and he was convicted and sentenced to the maximum punishment of 14 years. 

Throughout all of the court cases, Taylor’s mother Cristy was there for every hearing – even if was just to postpone it until another day. When sentencing came, she was allowed to read her victim impact statement in the courtroom, but other family members were not—they were only allowed to write letters to the judge. Several family members who wanted to speak were never given that opportunity.

On top of the long, drawn-out court case, Cristy and her family were verbally attacked by the defendant’s family in the halls of the courthouse. A re-victimization that no victim should have to go through when trying to get justice for a loved one.

In 2014, Cristy’s state amended its crime victim’s bill of rights to include several changes, including a victim’s right to be heard at any court proceeding involving a post-arraignment release decision, plea or sentencing. They also included a victim’s right to be free from harassment, intimidation and abuse throughout the criminal trial process. 

These two amendments weren’t available to Cristy and her family when they went through the criminal justice process, but their experience highlights just how important these rights are and how vital it is that victims are notified of their rights so that they can exercise them.  Cristy now encourages every victim to educate themselves about what their rights are so that they can make sure their voice is heard. 

MADD Victim Advocates help victims and survivors in a variety of ways, including letting them know what their rights are, advocating on their behalf in the criminal justice process, and attending court with them. If you or a loved one has been impacted by a drunk or drugged driving crash and would like to speak with a MADD Victim Advocate, please call the MADD Help Line at 1-877-623-3435 or 1-877-MADD-HELP to speak with someone right away.

This week is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to recognize those who have been impacted by crime and renew our efforts to make sure these victims receive justice.  This year’s theme, Engaging Communities. Empowering Victims, emphasizes the role of the entire community, individually and collectively, as we support victims of crime and empower them to direct their own recovery.  You can help by
volunteering as a MADD Victim Advocate or by spreading the word about MADD Victim Services.


Today is PowerTalk 21 Day!

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 21

Today’s the day! It’s PowerTalk 21® day – the national day to talk with your kids about alcohol.

Teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year, which is more than all other illegal drugs combined. But the good news is that parents have the power to help their kids make healthy decisions that can keep them safe. In fact, research shows that parents are the primary influence on their kids’ decisions about whether or not to drink alcohol. 

That’s why we started the Power of Parents® program and launched PowerTalk 21 day – to empower parents with the information and resources they need to help keep their children safe.

Help us reach as many parents as possible by sharing this image with your social network to help spread the word about PowerTalk 21 day:


Today is #PowerTalk21 day! Get the tools:

And don't forget, every person who downloads the handbook and/or registers for the virtual workshop by midnight tonight (April 21st) will be entered to win an Apple Watch Sport!

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Thank You to Our Sponsors

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 19

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

National Presenting Sponsor:


National Supporting Partner:

National Program Partners:



Supported by:


Social Roundtable: House Rules

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 18

Yesterday we shared with you the importance of setting rules for big celebrations like prom and graduation and setting expectations early so your kids know where you stand on underage drinking. And now we want to hear from you!

Join the online social roundtable on our Facebook page, or on Twitter using #HouseRules, and share with us what rules have you established around alcohol and drinking before 21.

And make sure to download our parent handbook to help you start this lifesaving conversation about alcohol with your kids this week at the dinner table. Plus, when you download the handbook by April 21st you’ll be entered to win a $100 Shutterfly gift card to help your kids make lasting memories, as well as entered in the grand prize drawing for an Apple Watch Sport.

PowerTalk 21 Across the Country

On Saturday, April 4th, MADD Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Affiliate participated in the Annual South Jazz and Blues Festival, sponsored by University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Park Campus, in Long Beach, Mississippi. The all-day event had approximately 2,000 attendees. A MADD booth was set up to talk to visitors about underage drinking and promote PowerTalk 21, and underage drinking handouts and Power of Parents handbook were given out to parents.

MADD Connecticut kicked off PowerTalk 21 by talking to parents at Aetna Insurance on April 2nd about how to talk to their teens. While parents signed up to be part of Aetna’s walk team, MADD CT provided Power of Parents information. MADD CT then held its first Power of Parents workshop for the PTA of East Shore Middle School. Program Specialist Amber Monck talked to 20 parents about the tips, tools, and techniques for talking to their middle school aged children about the dangers of underage drinking. A few of the parents from this presentation were surprised that when they asked their children about alcohol that their children were already making decisions about drinking. Parents also responded by saying that they were planning on having conversations over the weekend with their children. Finally, MADD CT rounded off the week by tabling at the The Country School’s presentation on How to Raise a Drug Free Kid by Joseph Califano in Madison, CT. At this event, MADD CT was able to share Power of Parents information and answer questions from the audience.

Court Monitoring Project Specialists Asheba Brown and April Higgins  participated in Inspire Charter Academy’s career day on April 2nd in Baton Rouge.  They shared information on MADD’s court monitoring program with the 8th graders and how MADD uses the data collected by court monitors to help strengthening DWI laws. After career day, they were asked by the Principal to speak to the 8th grade students about the dangers of underage drinking and riding with persons that are impaired.

San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor and Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood announced their support for the Power of Parents® Mayors Challenge issued by MADD during an April 14 press conference. MADD South Texas Executive Director Gloria Vasquez led the event, and MADD Victim Advocate Stacey Bowling shared her personal story about the pain and suffering she has endured after being hit by a drunk driver when she was 17 years old.  Click here to read more about this event.

Family Talk Friday: Setting Rules for Big Celebrations

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 17

The science is clear about young people and alcohol: Early alcohol use puts the developing brain at risk and substantially increases the risk of addiction. In short, there is no safe level of alcohol use for children under the age of 21.

With big milestones for teens, like prom and graduation, happening this time of year it’s just as important as ever to make sure your rules and expectations for your kids about alcohol are clear.

MADD urges you to make the following agreements with your teen:

  • No drinking alcohol before age 21
  • No socializing in places where teens are drinking
  • No riding in a car with a driver who has had any amount of alcohol

Alcohol can seem so common and familiar that parents might forget how risky drinking is for young people. Alcohol kills more teens than all other illegal drugs combined. As a parent, don’t feel the pressure to give in and let your teen drink before the age of 21, even as a “rite of passage” at major events like prom and graduation. Consider this: kids whose parents allow them to drink at home drink more often and heavily outside the home. 

So before they head out to celebrate, discuss your position on alcohol with your son or daughter and talk about:

  • How you expect your teen will behave concerning alcohol
  • Why you take that position
  • Consequences you will enforce if the teen fails to live up to those expectations
  • Establishing consequences in advance appropriate to the violation

Also, make sure to help them figure out a plan that they can implement if they find themselves in a situation they shouldn’t be in. You can also talk to them about how to resist peer pressure by sharing our Power of You(th) teen booklet with them.

For more tips and tools to help you have this lifesaving conversation about alcohol with your kids , visit to download the Parent Handbook that’s right for you, and register for a free 15-minute virtual workshop held on April 21st, PowerTalk 21 Day. Every person who downloads the handbook or registers for the workshop between April 1st and April 21st will be entered to win one of several prizes—including a new Apple Watch Sport.

Take the PowerTalk 21 Pledge

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 16

With celebrations like prom and graduation on the horizon, it is important for parents to start the conversation now with their kids about alcohol—especially if they haven’t already. Data from a national survey of high school students shows that teens who receive a message from their parents that underage drinking is completely unacceptable are more than 80 percent less likely to drink than teens who receive other messages.

Because of this important information, we’re asking parents to make a pledge to send a clear message to their children through their words and their actions that underage drinking isn’t acceptable. Take the pledge now and share it on social media with other parents and ask them to follow suit.  Then let your child know how serious you take the issue and ask them to take the #ProtectUrSelfie pledge. 

Take the parent pledge now »

Volunteers are the Key

This week is National Volunteer week. We are so grateful for all of the wonderful MADD volunteers we have across the country, who are not only making an impact in their communities, but they are saving lives!

Here are just a few ways our incredible volunteers are making an impact:

  • Advocate for Change. Volunteers work to strengthen existing laws and enact new ones.
  • Lend a Shoulder. Volunteer victim advocates provide emotional support to drunk and drugged driving victims/survivors as well as guide them through the criminal justice system.
  • Share their Story. Volunteers speak at schools, civic groups, clubs and other organizations, sharing their story and helping to raise awareness.
  • Raise Funds. Many of our Walk Like MADD events are run entirely by dedicated volunteers, helping to raise awareness and funds for MADD in their community.
  • Raise Awareness. Volunteers represent MADD at public awareness events such as parades, fairs, and safe proms and graduation events.
  • Administrative Support. Volunteers help at MADD offices by answering phones, filing, copying or performing other office support duties.
  • Court Monitoring. Volunteers gather data about the criminal justice system in order to ensure transparency, accountability and efficiency to promote appropriate prosecution and sentencing thus reducing the likelihood of repeat offenses.

We are so grateful for each and every one of our volunteers and the work that they do. MADD would not be successful without their dedication, support and generosity.

If you are interested in becoming a MADD volunteer to help save lives and serve victims, please click here and fill out our online form to get started.

Winning Wednesday

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 15

Congratulations to Laurie Wanza, the week two prize winner! Laurie will receive a $60 Plated gift certificate.   

There is still time to enter this year’s 21 Days in Support of 21 promotion. Every person who downloads the handbook and/or registers for the virtual workshop this week, April 15 through April 21, will be entered to win a $100 Shutterfly gift card, as well as the grand prize of an Apple Watch Sport!

The Evolution of the Conversation

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 13

Have you considered when to start having the conversation about alcohol with your kid? You may have had the talk about alcohol after you found out your teen was drinking. Or you may still be optimistic that drinking alcohol is not a behavior your kid(s) would consider. But sometimes, as parents like Debbie Taylor have tragically experienced, it can be too late to begin these critical discussions.

“Parents often tell me they think the right age to talk to their children is when they reach middle school. They say that is where the risks are,” said Dr. Robert Turrisi, PhD, professor and researcher at Pennsylvania State University. “Contrary to popular opinion, research shows that children form beliefs about alcohol at about the same time they enter 1st or 2nd grade and these can change in either direction, positively or negatively, well into their 20s.”

Since children begin forming perceptions about the positive and negative effects of alcohol well before middle school, and research shows us that parents are the primary influence on their kids’ decisions about drinking alcohol, then as parents, you have the unique opportunity to help form these perceptions in order to guide children to make healthy and safe decisions when they are presented with the pressure to drink before 21.

Of course, this conversation should begin early and then evolve as children grow. For example, young children are learning that they have a brain and that this brain serves a critical purpose and must be protected (which is why we wear helmets on a bicycle). Alcohol impairs the developing brain, which we now know is not fully developed until the early to mid-20s.

At this age, it is also very important to talk to your children about situations they may find themselves in where they might be in a car with someone who has been drinking. Discuss a plan with them so that if they are in a situation like this, they feel empowered to not get in the car and to contact a parent or trusted adult, or to carry out a similar plan you’ve discussed.

As they transition to middle school, kids’ bodies are rapidly changing. Kids who are satisfied with their bodies tend to have higher self-esteem. Self-esteem can help kids resist alcohol and other substances.  Parents can reassure their son or daughter that body changes are natural and that within a few years, everyone will grow into their bodies.

Middle schoolers are likely experiencing newfound freedoms that involve unsupervised activities with peers. The decisions they make are based on their immediate emotions, which can lead to some risky behaviors. The parent’s role is to help them use information to start developing rational thinking skills. It is important to have clear family rules about what to do if they are in a situation where alcohol is present and available to them. Results from many studies indicate kids drink more often and heavier when alcohol is made available to them by parents. The best practice is to the have your son or daughter understand that they are to leave or call a trusted adult for a ride if this happens. For research-based tips on talking with your middle schooler about alcohol, download MADD’s middle school parent handbook.

Once teens reach high school, parents often think they no longer have the influence, especially about teens’ perceptions and decisions around alcohol, but this is simply not true! It is still just as critical to continue to have ongoing conversations with teens about alcohol and include them in the discussion about family rules and consequences related to drinking alcohol before 21. For research-based tips on talking with your high school teen about alcohol, download MADD’s high school parent handbook.

Turrisi adds, “Children and teens are simply not smaller versions of adults. Their brains are still developing and think very differently than adults. This is why it is so important that parents talk to their children early and often... If you have not started, then I recommend you do. If you have these conversations every once in a while, I recommend having more. It is one of the most positive things you can do as a parent!”

From a Teen’s Perspective

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 12

Members of our National Teen Influencer group share the reasons why they have made the choice to not to drink underage:

Ashley Persson
My parents have talked about alcohol with me for as long as I can remember. By starting so young, it was always a comfortable topic. It started as statements when I was little. If we were out to dinner and we saw people drinking my mom would remind us how "dangerous" and "not good for us" alcohol is. It has been instilled in my brain for so long, so I feel comfortable going to my parents to talk about situations that have to do with alcohol.

Alex Otte
The conversation about alcohol and drinking wasn’t one that had come up in my house by the time I was 13 years old. I’m not sure how that conversation would have been approached because it was never one that my situation required. When I was 13, I was nearly killed by a man who chose to drink in excess and operate a boat. After that, I made my own decisions about alcohol without any need for that conversation to occur. My parents were, however, very supportive in my decision not to drink under 21, and not to get in the car with someone who had been drinking.

Kassidy Brown
There was never really a specific moment I remember my parents explaining that they would not tolerate underage alcohol abuse. It was just always known. I wasn't talked to about the effects of alcohol, they were shown to me. My sister abused alcohol starting in middle school and continued to abuse it throughout college. That's why there was never really a talk with my parents about drinking being a bad choice. I knew from a young age of watching my sister repeatedly get into trouble that alcohol was not allowed! She's the reason I have never taken a drink.

Kenya James
It’s always been an understanding my parents and I have had that consuming alcohol wasn’t for me. I watched family members, close friends, and elders I knew let alcohol tear their life, dreams, and aspirations apart, and I told my parents that was not going to be me! I knew I wanted to live healthy: mentally, physically and spiritually, so I was determined to live each day responsibility without alcohol. I also remembered a question my parents asked me: What’s your motive for consuming alcohol? And as I thought about it, I had no motive because I will face problems to the day I die and just drinking for a good time isn’t going to make my problems or issues disappear. So, I decided that alcohol wasn’t going to become a part of me, and my parents 100% enforced and supported my decision, inspiring me to find other ways to responsibly enjoy life and live it to the fullest.


Addressing the topic of drinking underage with your child both early and often is important. MADD wants to give parents the tools they need to talk to their children about alcohol.  Download our parent handbook today, start the conversation tomorrow and keep it going every day after!


Social Roundtable: The Family that Eats Together, Talks Together

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 11

Research shows that the more you connect with your kids by having dinner together, talking, enjoying activities, etc., the more protected your kids are against alcohol and other drug use. And eating dinner together gives you a great opportunity to talk with your kids about the dangers of underage drinking!

Join our online social roundtable and share your favorite family dinner recipe using #PT21RecipeSwap on Twitter. Follow along for new ideas from other MADD parents for the perfect dish to help you talk with your kids.

And make sure to download our parent handbook to help you start this lifesaving conversation about alcohol with your kids this week at the dinner table. Plus, when you download the handbook between April 8th and April 14th you’ll be entered to win a $60 Plated gift card, as well as entered in the grand prize drawing for an Apple Watch Sport.