Hillsborough County Mothers Against Drunk Driving Program Specialist Sharon Hall, center, is presented with a proclamation, by Hillsborough County Commissioner representative Jeff Huggins. 

Area parents got some tips on how to talk with their teens about alcohol last month, during the presentation of “Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence” program, sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

The program was launched last year by MADD and is held on National Power Talk Day, ahead of Prom and graduation season, to alert parents of the dangers of teen drinking.

“The program is designed to educate parents about their teenagers and on how to communicate effectively with them, which may seem simple at times, but can be tricky,” said Hillsborough County Mothers Against Drunk Driving Program Specialist Sharon Hall.

The 20 or so parents, some of whom brought their children along, responded well to the topic. According to Fearnow Insurance spokesperson Monica Hilton, it was a great way to reach out to the community.

“MADD presented the topic in a very informative and interactive way, which visibly affected those present,” Hilton said. “We were pleased to open our doors to the organization and plan on supporting such programs in the future, which includes the upcoming MADD Walk, held later this year.”

Fearnow Insurance, located at 11607 E. Dr. M.L.K. Blvd. in Seffner, is no stranger to such events as it has hosted teen driving related programs in the past and, for a good reason.

A recent statistics provided by MADD, said that underage alcohol use kills more young people than all illegal drugs combined, not to mention that more than 40 percent of individuals who start drinking before the age of 13 will develop alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.

High school students who use alcohol or other substances are five times more likely than other students to drop out of school or to believe that earning good grades is not important, only adds to the importance of the message.

While the numbers are alarming, they don’t have to be. According to MADD, the solution to the problem is parental involvement. Seventy four percent of children ages eight-17 said that their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drinking.

Hall said that parent education work because doing interventions as a family can reduce underage drinking and drunkenness by 30-60 percent and when parents and children are better connected, kids are less likely to drink or use other drugs.

For more information about MADD, please visit www.madd.org, or call 273-6233.

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