Having a lifesaving discussion with teens about the dangers of drinking

Parents are the number one influence when it comes to teens and alcohol. That's especially important when considering alcohol is the foremost youth drug problem in America. Fortunately, parents can reduce a young person's risk of drinking. MADD notes that 74 percent of teens turn to their parents for guidance on drinking, highlighting the influence informed and prepared parents can have on teens when it comes to alcohol.

To help parents, MADD recently launched "The Power of Parents: It's Your Influence." Sponsored by Nationwide Insurance, the program gives parents of high school students real world communication tips they can use at home to stop teen alcohol use.

Tips include communicate before a problem starts; discuss rules and consequences; show you care; pay attention; share family activities; give and get respect; and enforce consequences consistently.

The program, found on-line at thepowerofparents.org, consists of two parts, emphasizing both education and prevention:

1. A Web-based clearinghouse of the best available research on how to reduce risk written for parents, not scientists. The Web site includes everything from conversation tools to an "ask the expert" section, wherein parents can learn how to effectively answer tough questions about their own underage alcohol experiences and how to manage their alcohol consumption in front of their teens.

2. A community-based program where parents can come together to discuss proven strategy for the initial conversation to have with teens about alcohol as well as developing ongoing conversations to ensure teens stay on the right track. In addition to the Web site, MADD has also worked with Dr. Robert Turrisi of Pennsylvania State University to provide a handbook to parents about how to have the conversations about alcohol. Shown to reduce drinking significantly among college students, Turrisi has adapted it for use among parents of high school students.

Higher supervision and monitoring by parents consistently leads to lower levels of drinking.

To find out more about this program, visit www.thepowerofparents.org or call 1-800-GET-MADD for more information.

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