Friday, June 29, 2012

Celebrate Responsibly | Tips from MADD

Summertime is here and the Fourth of July is traditionally a time to celebrate vacations and family togetherness; however, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) warns that it can also be a dangerous time for those traveling on California roads. In 2010, 155 people were killed nationwide in drunk driving crashes over the holiday weekend, and 80 percent of those crashes took place at night, between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. These were people whose lives have been forever impacted and whose summer vacations and celebrations will no longer be fond memories. Tragically, their deaths and injuries were 100% preventable.
In 2010, 155 people were killed nationwide in drunk driving crashes over the holiday weekend, and 80 percent of those crashes took place at night, between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m.

Too many of us at MADD know the pain of losing a loved one in a drunk driving crash, so it’s our hope that by drawing attention to the increased dangers associated with a holiday like the Fourth of July, we can save other families the heartache and devastation caused by drunk driving. The next couple of months are sure to be filled with BBQ’s, informal get-togethers, and special family traditions. MADD encourages people to plan ahead for a safe way home if their plans include alcohol.

MADD would like to encourage you to consider a few ideas and take the simple steps necessary to keep your traditions and your loved ones alive. These simple tips will ensure your celebrations do not turn into tragedies.

As a party giver, perhaps one of your most important responsibilities is to plan for your guests’ safety after the party.  Don’t overlook some of these simple but crucial details:
  • Avoid making alcohol the main focus of the party.  Entertain guests with outdoor games, food, and lively conversation.
  • Be sure to offer plenty of non-alcoholic choices such as “mocktails”, sparkling water and soft drinks.
  • Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the end of the event.  Instead, serve coffee and desserts.
  • Never serve alcohol to anyone under 21.
  • Recruit designated drivers before the party begins.
  • Offer your place to spend the night.
  • Have everyone drop their keys in a basket when they arrive and only return the keys to sober drivers.
As a party goer, planning is the key:
  • Decide to be the Designated Driver.
  • Consider going with a group of friends and designate a sober driver before the celebration begins.
  • Take a cab, public transportation, or rent a limo.
  • Have the number of a taxi service in your pocket before heading out (some companies even provide free taxi services during holidays).
 With just a few precautions, your parties can be fun, safe and memorable for all the right reasons.

A final thought - as part of the nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown on drunk driving around the Fourth of July, California law enforcement will be intensifying their efforts to deter and detect drunk driving, in order to prevent these needless deaths and injuries.

Be safe and enjoy our Nation’s birthday!

Brenda Frachiseur is the Executive Director of MADD California. As one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every eight minutes through local MADD victim advocates. For more information about MADD California, visit

Friday, June 15, 2012

Elder Abuse in 2012

The Seventh Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day will be observed on June 15, 2012. This is a day that recognizes the horrendous problem of abuse of the elderly, including financial, assault, false imprisonment, neglect, exploitation, even rape or homicide. These crimes can happen to anyone. Actor Mickey Rooney and his family were in the news recently because of their experience with elder abuse. Californians aged 65 or older are projected to be the fastest-growing age group between 2000 and 2020, according to the Center for Budget Policy. By 2020, California will be home to the largest population of older adults in the United States, making it critical that we find increased and better ways to assist the elderly.

Seniors can be physically or sexually abused, but they are more likely to have their money or possessions stolen, which can be devastating on many levels. According to the California Attorney General, the financial abuse of seniors is so rampant it is being called “the crime of the 21st century.” For these seniors who have been so victimized, it can make them feel violated, angry, stupid or depressed. Seniors are hesitant to report these crimes because they don’t want their friends and family to think less of them or their decision-making abilities. Many financial abuse victims had led a long and happy life, but died feeling miserable because of the financial abuse they suffered.

Los Angeles County leads the way with approximately 160,000 cases of elder and nursing home abuse every year with most of these cases going unreported. Physical elder abuse is commonly committed by individual employees against patients in elder care facilities. These crimes include homicide, rape, false imprisonment, assault and battery. LA County alone represents 25% of all cases in California, followed by Orange County at approximately 53,000 cases, or 8.4% of the state’s cases of elder abuse. Just five of our 58 counties account for over half of all elder abuse cases: Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside and Santa Clara. Health care professionals, social workers, nursing home workers, employees of banks and credits unions and members of the clergy are required to make reports to Adult Protective Services or law enforcement if they suspect elder abuse.

On Elder Abuse Awareness Day, individuals and organizations are urged to raise awareness of the various types of abuse to which older individuals are subjected. This year, take a stand in the fight against elder abuse and take a stand for dignity and respect of our elders.

NOTE: Each county has an Adult Protective Services (APS) agency to help elder adults (65 years and older) and dependent adults (18-64 who are disabled) when they are unable to meet their own needs, or are victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation. Contact your local county APS.

The following website has information on where to report instances of elder abuse:

Portrait of Julie Nauman
Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB), appointed in 2008. VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.