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Prom Tops the List of School Functions Parents Are Most Concerned About Teens Drinking Alcohol

Washington, DC (April 21, 2017) – Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) and National Presenting Sponsor Nationwide® released new survey data today, specific to parents’ attitudes and behaviors about teen drinking during special occasions, such as prom. Parents ranked prom as the time of year they are most concerned about their teens drinking alcohol, followed by spring break, graduation, summer break, homecoming, winter break and at school sporting events.

“I know firsthand the devastation of losing a child to the preventable consequences of teen drinking,” said Colleen Sheehey-Church, MADD National President, whose son Dustin was killed at age 18 while riding in the car with a teen driver who had been drinking and using drugs during summer break. “Before prom and throughout the year, MADD and Nationwide are committed to reducing teen deaths and injuries by urging parents to talk with their kids about the dangers and consequences of alcohol.”

The MADD/Nationwide Survey results also showed:

  • While the majority of parents (80%) said it’s not okay to drink under 21, that number increased to 90% or higher of parents saying it’s not okay to drink during school-based special occasions. MADD applauds that nearly all (96%) parents said it’s not okay for their children to drink at prom.
  • Over 60% of parents think that their teens would get alcohol from a close friend/peer over anyone else at a special occasion, such as prom.
  • Just over half of parents talk to their teens about risks of drinking alcohol before special events; however parent conversations with their kids are critical and the leading influence whether a teen chooses to drink.
  • When it comes to non-school based special occasions such as family gatherings and birthday parties, parents were more accepting of teen drinking: one out of three parents said yes or maybe to their kids drinking as long as it was under their supervision.

“Our studies consistently reveal that when parents permit their teens to drink under their supervision at home they drink more often and in heavier amounts outside the home. They are also 4 times more likely to be in the high-risk group for experiencing the most alcohol and drug related consequences,” emphasized Robert Turrisi, PhD, Penn State professor of Biobehavioral Health and Prevention Research Center, whose research is the basis of MADD’s Power of Parents program. “These findings hold up even when parents are excellent at other aspects of parenting, such as being good communicators and good role models. The easiest way for parents to reduce the risk of harm coming to their teens is to not allow them to drink alcohol. MADD’s Power of Parent materials are the best resource for parents to help their teens in this way.”

During the month of April, for both Alcohol Awareness Month and PowerTalk 21 Day on April 21st, MADD and its partners held a national event to raise awareness that alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“With the majority of schools celebrating prom in the next several weeks, it’s an ideal time to focus on having conversations about teen alcohol use,” said Bill Windsor, Nationwide Associate Vice President of Consumer Safety. “We want teens to celebrate this special occasion in a healthy and safe way, and we continue to urge all parents and school officials to set expectations about no alcohol use at prom.”

New this month, MADD and National Supporting Partner National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA) released five topical guides pulled from the Power of Parents handbooks for parents of middle school and high school students. The bite-sized guides focus on a specific topic related to preventing underage drinking.

It takes all adults to keep alcohol out of the hands of youth, including parents, retailers and law enforcement,” said Steven Schmidt, NABCA Sr. Vice President of Public Policy and Communications. “NABCA is honored to join MADD in releasing new topical guides that make it even more convenient for parents to access tangible tools to help keep their teens safe.”

PowerTalk 21 is a part of MADD’s Power of Parents program that empowers parents of middle school and high school students to have ongoing, intentional conversations about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking. Parents can download free Power of Parents handbooks for parents of middle school and high school students, and sign up for a free 20-minute online workshop at

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 340,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

About Nationwide®
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

Nationwide, the Nationwide mark, and On Your Side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

Established in 1938, NABCA is the national association representing the Control State Systems – those jurisdictions that directly control the distribution and sale of beverage alcohol within their borders. Headquartered in Alexandria, VA, NABCA’s mission is to support member jurisdictions in their efforts to protect public health and safety and assure responsible and efficient systems for beverage alcohol distribution and sales. Visit for more information.

Survey data was collected online with 497 responses of parents with at least one child aged 10-18 still living at home. The online methodology using Survey Monkey was selected to provide the most effective way to reach this targeted subset audience of the general adult population. The survey was conducted March 9-15, 2017.


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