MADD Stresses Parents To Talk To Their Children About Underage Drinking
By BRITTNI BARNETT
As families hit the lake, fire up the grill and pump up the music this weekend in celebration of Memorial Day, Mothers Against Drunk Driving encourages parents to take this time to talk with their children about the dangers of underage drinking.
MADD recently released data showing that 85 percent of Texas parents believe their children are not interested in underage drinking, said Leslie Watson, executive director of MADD East Texas.
"A lot of parents don't want to admit that their children are interested in underage drinking," Ms. Watson said. "But it's an issue that can start much younger than people realize."
According to national data, a third of eighth-graders admit to drinking, Ms. Watson said. Also, one in seven high school sophomores and one in four seniors admit to being drunk in the last 30 days.
According to MADD's website, 74 percent of teens turn to their parents for advice on drinking. As a result, the organization offers the Power of Parents program, designed to help parents discuss the issue with their children effectively.
"Parents tend to think that their children are most influenced by their peers," Ms. Watson said. "But they need to realize that they still have the power to influence their child's decisions."
Texas consistently leads the nation in alcohol-related crash-es and deaths, Ms. Watson said. In 2011, 42 percent of traffic deaths in Texas were a result of someone driving under the influence, according to MADD.
Because of this, the Tyler Police Department and other departments statewide will be vigilant in looking for those driving under the influence this holiday weekend, said Don Martin, Tyler Police spokesman.
"If you do decide to drink, make sure you drink responsibly," Martin said. "If you drink, don't get behind the wheel, and if you don't think you can drink without getting intoxicated then drink at home."
Tyler police also will enforce the "no refusal" policy this weekend, Martin said. Those suspected of driving under the influence will be subject to a blood test under a search warrant if they refuse a breathalyzer test.
"There are all sorts of things people can do to stay safe this weekend," Martin said. "But ultimately it comes down to being responsible."
For more information about Mothers Against Drunk Driving visit www.madd.org