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April 13, 2015

Talk to Your Kids About Underage Drinking

Dear Houstonian,

Each year, as the school year winds down and the annual prom and graduation festivities begin, parents everywhere are holding their breath that what is supposed to be a very happy time does not turn to tragedy.  They fear the dreaded news about the teen with a bright future who is seriously injured or killed due to an alcohol-related accident. We all hope and pray it doesn't happen to our kids or their friends. Unfortunately, it does happen.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 343 motor vehicle accidents blamed on drunk driving by teens during April and May of last year. In all of 2014, there were nearly 2,000 drunk driving related crashes involving underage drivers in Texas. These accidents were responsible for 91 deaths.

April 21 marks PowerTalk 21 Day, the national day for parents to talk with their children about alcohol. Parents may think it's too soon to talk about difficult subjects like alcohol when their children are in middle school, but consider this... 27% of middle school students try alcohol before finishing the 8th grade. So the reality is that parents need to talk with their children about alcohol early and continue those conversations into early adulthood.

What's more:

  • 36.1% of Texas students grades 9-12 have had alcohol in the past 30 days
  • 11.2% of Texas students have driven when they had been drinking alcohol
  • 28.7% rode with someone who had been drinking
  • 108 people ages 12 to 20 were killed in drunk driving crashes and 273 were seriously injured in Texas last year

As a parent and as the mayor of Houston, I want our city to lead in preventing underage drinking. That's why I am joining with Mothers Against Drunk DrivingR (MADD) and TxDOT to launch the first-ever Power of ParentsR Mayors Challenge. This effort includes a challenge to my fellow mayors in Texas and across the country to join me in the effort to prevent underage drinking.

You can help Houston win the Power of Parents Mayors Challenge by downloading the free handbook today. As a bonus, parents who download the handbook between April 1 and April 21 will be entered for a chance to win weekly prizes, including an Apple Watch Sport.

It is never too early to start talking with your children about alcohol.  You can be the single biggest influence on their teen's decision not to drink. In fact, 62% of Texas teens say their parents are the motivating factor for them not to drink.  Download the handbook today and start talking!

We can stop this dangerous - and often deadly - behavior. Houston can show the nation that underage drinking prevention should be a priority for all of us. Together, we can make a difference and save lives - helping all Houston parents breathe a little easier.

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Council Members: Brenda Stardig • Jerry Davis • Ellen R. Cohen • Dwight A. Boykins • Dave Martin •
Richard Nguyen • Oliver Pennington • Edward Gonzalez • Robert Gallegos •
Mike Laster • Larry V. Green • Stephen C. Costello • David W. Robinson •
Michael Kubosh • C.O. “Brad” Bradford • Jack Christie
Controller: Ronald C. Green