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PowerTalk 21: Talk with Your Teen About Alcohol

Sep 27, 2017, 10:53 AM

Of all the dangers your teen faces, underage drinking is among the worst. Compared with non-drinking classmates, teens who drink are more likely to:

  • Die in a car crash
  • Get pregnant
  • Flunk school
  • Be sexually assaulted
  • Become an alcoholic later in life
  • Take their own life through suicide

The good news is that you can make a difference! Parents have the power to help teens make healthy decisions that can keep them safe. New research from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) shows that teens who receive a message from their parents that underage drinking is completely unacceptable are more than 80 percent less likely to drink than teens who receive other messages.

PowerTalk 21 day—April 21st—is the national day for parents to talk with their teens about alcohol. MADD knows that informed, caring parents can make a difference and offer resources to help them through the Power of Parents® program, sponsored by Nationwide Insurance.  Download the latest version of the parent handbook for tips and tools to help you start the potentially lifesaving conversation about alcohol with your teens.

This year, MADD is building up to PowerTalk21 with “21 days in support of 21.” Starting on April 1st, each day until PowerTalk21 day, MADD will host events across the country to create ongoing and intentional conversation about underage drinking, as well as share tips and stories to help parents prepare for the big day. So make sure to visit daily to get all of the updates.

Year round, MADD offers 25-minute parent workshops in communities across the country where parents and caregivers can receive tips and tools for talking about alcohol with their teen, including a hard copy of the parent handbook. Contact your local or state office to find a parent workshop near you.

This year, MADD will also host free 25-minute online discussions throughout day on April 21st for parents and caregivers to learn the best way to talk with your teens, so that they really listen.  Find out more and register now at

Start talking on April 21st, and together, we can help prevent underage drinking and save lives.

Brought to you by MADD


Jan Withers joined MADD in 1992, after her 15-year-old daughter, Alisa Joy, was killed by an underage drinker who chose to drive after consuming numerous beers. She first volunteered by sharing her story and lobbying for tougher legislation. Her new focus in life was to try to make a difference by helping to stop this preventable violent crime. She actively participated in campaigning to lower the illegal limit of blood alcohol content for drivers from a .10 BAC to a .08 BAC, both on the national level and in Maryland. She was privileged to be present in the Oval Office when President Clinton signed the federal bill into law.

Her passion, though, is providing support for other victims of this violent crime. She is a certified victim advocate as well as a certified trainer for National MADD victim services. Jan serves as a victim advocate for MADD Maryland.  In this capacity she facilitates a support group for victims of homicide and vehicular manslaughter. She served on the MADD Maryland Operations Council, and was the chairperson for the Victim Services Committee and the Public Policy Committee.  She was elected to the MADD National Board of Directors in 2005. 

Her prior service includes a stint as the Director of Victim Services for the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Colorado Women’s College, and has been trained in group facilitation, crisis response, victimization, bereavement, and trauma. Jan was born and raised in Colorado. She is married to Joe Sikes, MADD Chesapeake Region Council Chairperson. They reside in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Together they have 5 surviving children and 5 grandchildren.