Voices In Prevention

Voices in Prevention spotlights people on Maui, Moloka’i and Lana’i who are working in drug use prevention, treatment and recovery, or are affected by substance use. This month, we spoke with Andrea Maniago, volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and parent whose 16-year-old eldest son, Kai’o, was killed in a crash caused by a drunken driver in 2009.

Q: What can parents do to protect their kids from the harms of substance use?

Maniago: My advice is to be more involved. Ask more questions: “Whose house? What will you be doing? Do you need me to pick you up?” Meet the parents. Be more involved in what your kids are doing. Nowadays it’s harder because people are more standoffish. But I want to know who my kids are hanging out with.

Q: Where are you most concerned about kids using drugs or being exposed to substance use?

Maniago: Of course I’m worried about kids partying. As a parent I don’t personally see it, but I hear about it. People will see things on Snapchat. Before it used to be Facebook and Instagram, but now it’s Snapchat I hear about more often. Right now my daughter is 10 and she is at an age where she will tell me anything. But I can see in a couple years she will just be more involved in social media. It sucks her into this environment where she is exposed to things we wouldn’t expose them to at home. They’re exposed to so much so quickly, it’s scary.

Q: You advocated for the Maui social host ordinance, which allows police to fine people who host gatherings with underage drinking. Why is that important to you?

Maniago: I feel like the ordinance is important because one issue we have here on Maui is house parties. No one is talking about it, but we all know. And bad things are happening because of them. Teenagers are aware of these parties. Neighborhoods are aware of these parties. We’ve been ignoring this house party issue and it’s becoming more and more dangerous.

Q: The Maui social host ordinance passed last February, but is yet to be enforced. What do you hope it will accomplish, when it is enforced?

Maniago: I’m hoping it’s going to prevent young people from getting sexually assaulted, and from getting into their cars and driving after drinking. I’m hoping it’s going to prevent alcohol poisoning. It’s so important because it prevents these things from happening. It will make parents more aware of what their kids are up to, and prevent underage drinking at house parties.

Q: What activities have you been involved in recently to bring awareness to underage drinking and drunk driving?

Maniago: The Maui Police Department recently did the DUI checkpoint in November, in honor of Hannah Brown. (The Maui teen was killed in a head-on collision on Kuihelani Highway in 2019.) The Department of Transportation, the prosecuting Attorney’s Office and a couple of County Council members were there. Miss Maui, who focuses on reducing drunk driving as part of her platform, came out. We also just finished a public service announcement to bring awareness to driving safely. It’s three different parents talking about the dreams of our kids, what their futures could have looked like and how they were denied that because of how people were driving. There were also sign-waving events reminding folks to not drink and drive during the holiday season. One on December 23rd, and one by Maui Economic Opportunity’s youth program on December 30th.

Q: As a mother, what message do you have for teens to stay safe?

Maniago: I think it’s important to remind kids that you may feel pressured, but that doesn’t mean you need to give in. Try not to give in. Know who your friends are. Have that lifeline. Know that friend you can count on.

* To learn more about Mothers Against Drunk Driving, visit www.madd.org/hawaii/. For more information on the Maui social host ordinance and the Maui Coalition for Drug-Free Youth, visit www.mcdfy.org or follow on Facebook and Instagram @mauicoalitionfordrugfreeyouth.


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