By: Julia Furne, Certified Prevention Specialist
Each year spring brings the excitement of planning for prom. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of finding the perfect dress and having or not having a date. Planning for safety is also an important part of the planning process. Prom is a long held tradition which leaves memories that should last a lifetime. Too many families and students have memories related to the consequences of teen drinking as part of prom festivities. Parents can help change this tradition and to encourage kids to have a prom night to remember for the right reasons.
The consequences of teen drinking during prom include the well-publicized car accidents and fatalities from drinking and driving but can also include unplanned sexual activity, alcohol poisoning, exploitation on social media and peer pressure related to other drugs. The myth that alcohol adds to the prom experience needs to be dispelled and parents are in the perfect position to dispel that myth.
Parents have a significant impact on the decisions their child makes, and this includes during prom. Kids do listen when parents talk. If parents don’t talk, kids listen to who is talking to them, their peers. Initiate the conversation with your child about your concerns about their safety and state clearly what you expect them to do and not do. Encourage them with identifying the positive choices they have rather than lecturing on all the laundry list of things they shouldn’t do. Parents can acknowledge that this is a momentous night for them while stressing the need for healthy decision making.
Parents can help the child devise a safety plan if they find themselves in an unsafe situation. Make sure your student knows they can call for a ride anytime they feel unsafe. Parents can offer to host a pre or post prom event at your home where they can provide an appropriate level of supervision. Coordinate with other parents letting them know you will be providing a safe and supervised event for the pro goers. If your child is going to someone else’s home, reach out those parents and ask if the party will be supervised.
School and community organizations have tried to change the prom drinking tradition on a by offering post prom events which gives the students an opportunity to continue socializing with peers late into the night in a safe environment. Having alternative activities which allow kids to gather and socialize in a safe environment is a practiced adopted by many communities with the goal of preventing accidents and fatalities.
Communities and parents have the ability to encourage and promote safe prom traditions and activities so all students are left with positive memories that will last long after the dance is over.
To learn more about how to talk to your youth about alcohol use and other safe behaviors visit http://www.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking/parent-resources or contact ASAC prevention for additional resources at http://www.asac.us/prevention/.