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      Parents biggest influence on underage drinking

      With prom and graduation parties coming up, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is encouraging parents to talk to their kids about the consequences of drinking. Sunday April 21 is Powertalk 21 day, MADD's designated day for parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of alcohol.

      MADD volunteer Sarah Sanchez said taking away the keys does not eliminate the risk.

      Parents who think their children are safe because they have agreed not to drink are only preventing one-third of the risks associated with underage drinking, Sanchez said.

      Research shows 30 percent of 8th graders have tried alcohol and one in six teens binge drinks, but research also shows parents have the greatest influence to change the statistics.

      Three out of four kids said parents are the biggest influence when it comes to drinking.

      "It's important for parents to realize they need to talk to their children and talk to them early, Sanchez said. Make an open dialogue with them so they feel comfortable talking about anything they need."

      University of Texas-Pan American freshman Rose Reyes agrees parents need to set the example and talk to their kids.

      My father has been in prison since I was a little girl, Reyes said. He was put in there for multiple DWI arrests and though we are not in contact anymore, his situation has taught me that drunk driving affects not just those involved but family friends and innocent people left behind to deal with the consequences."

      And as students head out to the end of the year parties, Edinburg police will be stepping up their patrol.

      For more on how to talk to kids about the dangers of alcohol, MADD will be hosting a webinar on both Friday and Saturday.