MADD Texas Warns Parents: Early Alcohol Use Undermines Academic Success
AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — With the new school year about to begin, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is warning Texas parents about the potential harm alcohol can have on their children’s academic success. More specifically, research has shown that teen brain development is adversely affected by alcohol, which could lead to poorer academic performance.
“The hectic preparations for a new school year may mean that parents are putting off difficult conversations. But parents should know that talking with their children about NOT drinking alcohol could make a difference in their children’s academic success,” explained Jaime Gutierrez, MADD Texas State Director.
For teens, the negative consequences of alcohol consumption include the immediate concerns of engaging in risky behaviors – such as drinking and driving and other dangerous actions – that can lead to deadly consequences. Additionally, research led by Susan Tapert of the University of California, San Diego, also has shown how teen brain development and cognitive functions can be adversely affected by alcohol over the long term.
Tapert’s research found that adolescents ages 12 to 18 who binge drink are more likely to do poorly in mathematics, engineering and subjects that require their focus for a sustained period of time.i For some teens, the difference can be equated to a 10 percent drop in academic performance – or the difference between getting an A or a B.ii Binge drinking is defined as drinking alcoholic beverages with the primary intention of becoming intoxicated, which typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in the period of about 2 hours.
“Parents want what’s best for their children. That’s why we hope parents will make it a priority to talk with their kids about alcohol and stress that it is never acceptable or smart to drink before they’re 21 years old,” said Gutierrez.
MADD surveys show that parents are the single biggest influence on their children’s decision not to drink. Sixty-two percent of Texas teens say their parents are the motivating factor for them not to drink.iii Additionally, a national survey conducted by MADD and Nationwide Insurance, showed that the clearer the message from parents is about not drinking, the less likely it is that a teen will drink.iv
Parents also could help save lives by talking with their teens about the dangers of underage drinking and driving or riding with someone who has been drinking before their children celebrate the end of summer and head back to school. Last year in Texas, from August through September, there were 330 drunk driving crashes involving drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 years old, resulting in 35 injuries and 12 deaths (TxDOT, 2015). Additionally, 15 people between the ages of 12 years old and 20 years old were killed in drunk driving crashes in Texas August through September 2014 (TxDOT, 2015).
MADD recommends parents use the Power of Parents® handbooks, now available for parents and caretakers of middle school and high school students, to have these conversations with their kids. Together with Nationwide and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), MADD launched this research-based program to equip parents with the resources they need to talk with their children about the dangers and consequences of alcohol. MADD developed Power of Parents by working with Dr. Robert Turrisi, Pennsylvania State University, and adapting his handbook model to reach parents of high school students. The Power of Parents middle school handbook was introduced this past spring, so that parents may start this life-saving conversation with their children early and continue it often.
In Texas, MADD is helping parents engage in a conversation with their kids about the dangers of underage drinking by hosting workshops in local areas across the state. Contact your local MADD office to learn more about workshop opportunities. For more information about Power of Parents or to download materials, parents can visit www.madd.org/texas.
MADD Texas receives funding from and works closely with TxDOT to promote Power of Parents as part of the state’s Take the Wheel program to reduce drunk driving in Texas. Nationwide is MADD’s national presenting sponsor for the Power of Parents program.
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving®
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is celebrating its 35th anniversary by creating a future of NO MORE VICTIMS™. MADD is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every ten minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end drunk driving through increased law enforcement, all offender ignition interlock laws and advanced vehicle technology. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their teens about alcohol, using Power of Parents®’ proven approach to reduce underage drinking. Learn more by visiting MADD’s new website at madd.org or calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides customers a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, pet, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and specialty health services. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.
Nationwide, the Nationwide frame mark, and On Your Side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.