It is that time of year again. Maybe this year it is your teen who will be attending Prom. Prom is an excellent time for parent and teen, and it marks the closure of the teen’s formal education and their move into life. Unfortunately, many teens are not as mature as other and make bad decisions that can cost them their lives. The good news is that you the parent can make a big difference in your teen’s Prom decisions and there are plenty of organizations that want to help you.
Rebecca Lake wrote an excellent article for Credit Donkey titled 23 Prom Night Statistics Every Parent Should Read. In her article (2016) she writes “Accidents are the number one cause of death for young people aged 12 to 19, and those involving motor vehicles are the most common. Statistics show roughly a third of alcohol-related teen traffic fatalities occur between April and June, which is considered the peak of prom season.” Wow, that is shocking news especially since it is illegal for that age group to consume alcohol.
Speaking of alcohol, Rebecca (2016) tells us that “Drug and Alcohol use is more common than you think.” That is disappointing to me as a parent, and I am sure for you as well. Rebecca got her information from a survey of teens aged 16 to 19. Rebecca (2016) reported that the survey said:
- 1% of those that responded, “said it was likely that they or their friends would use drugs or alcohol on prom night (Lake, 2016).”
- 84% of those that responded, “said their friends would be more likely to get behind the wheel after drinking than to call home for a ride (if they believed they would get in trouble for using alcohol) (Lake, 2016).”
- 22% of those that responded, “said they would ride in a car with someone who was impaired instead of calling their parents (Lake, 2016).”
I can relate to some of this information because a friend and neighbor of mine had a son that it took him and his wife many years to have. It was their only child. As a teenager, he got into the car with a drunk friend behind the wheel and died when the driver had an accident. There is no way to replace this young man. I know he loved his parents, but I also know he took a terrible risk and lost his life.
Since drinking seems to be a significant danger for teens, let’s look at another article at Promise.com titled Prom Night and Teen Drinking: The Facts (2018). “High school prom is a milestone in the life of nearly every American teenager. Unfortunately, prom night drinking typically occurs in tandem with this special event. For many teens, prom may be the first time they ever drink alcohol, or the first time they binge drink and get truly drunk (Promise.2018).” Mix that with driving, and you have a recipe for death. In this article (2018) the author states that “approximately 300 teens have died in alcohol-related traffic accidents during prom weekends over the past several years.” That is more than enough death to cause all parents to want to act.
If your teen is a daughter, there are other concerns you may have for Prom night. Carleton Kendrick wrote an excellent article for Huffington Post titled Prom, Death and Sexual Assault: Helping Your Teen Make Safe, Smart Decisions — The Talk, The Ride, The Connection, The Offer. In this article, he notes that “most date rapes and sexual assaults against girls are alcohol and drug-related.” If you already knew that then maybe you knew another point he made that “A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services national survey reported 39% of high school senior boys considered it acceptable to force sex on a girl who is intoxicated by alcohol or high on drugs.” If those two don’t scare you to death, they ought to. If your teen is a son, you need to make sure he knows these two points also.
Actions to Reduce the Danger
Lucky for parents Promise.com (2018) also has an article titled Tips for Parents: Talk to Your Teen About Prom Night Drinking Hazards. In that article (2018) it states that “statistics show that talking to teens about the issue and working with them to take safety measures makes a big difference. In fact, it is thought that proactive parents contributed to a 53% reduction in driver deaths among 15- to 19-year-olds between 2005 and 2014.” If I could recommend only one tip to you as a parent to reduce the dangers of Prom night, this would be it. However, I am not limited to just one tip.
Another article titled Remember your prom experience? This article provides brochures that highlight other tips for you and your teen. They also have them in Spanish. The Westchester Government makes the brochures themselves. I encourage parents to download these brochures and discuss them with your teen before Prom. If your teen is riding in a limo, speak directly with that limo company owner about his company’s alcohol and drug policies. Do business only with a company/owner who forbids the presence and consumption of alcohol and other drugs in his vehicles. The brochure on Contract Tips and Prom Night Fact Sheet can help you with this.
- 2018 Prom Brochure_ENG
- 2018 Prom Brochure_SPANISH
- 2018 Prom Contract Tips
- 2018 PROM NIGHT FACT SHEET – English
- 2018 PROM NIGHT FACT SHEET – Spanish
Kendrick (2018) also recommends you talk to your teen about your concerns. Here is my abridged version:
- Have a pre-prom talk with your teen.
- Discuss drinking, drug use, driving under the influence and sex.
- Get their complete itinerary for the evening.
- Decide on a curfew.
- Your teen cannot drink or take drugs and drive.
- If they are not driving themselves, they must ride with someone who has not and will not drink alcohol or take drugs.
- If they are going to other teens’ houses after the prom, check ahead of time with these teen’s parents.
Kendrick (2018) also says to give your children the unconditional option of calling you at any time for help or advice. That includes an “offer to pick them up at any time of day or night, with a promise not to shame or humiliate them in front of others, nor to condemn or shame them once you get them in the car or back home.”
Prom can be a great time in your teen’s life. It can also be a perilous time too. Experts recommend talking to your teen about the dangers of Prom and help them identify what they are going to do to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of those dangers. Together you and your teen can plan a safe and enjoyable Prom. You can find other resources at SADD or Students Against Drunk Driving and MADD or Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Your local Police and Sheriff’s Offices can also provide local safety information for Prom. One closing note is to give your teen the Kendrick offer: “an unconditional option of calling you at any time for help or advice. That includes an offer to pick them up at any time of day or night, with a promise not to shame or humiliate them in front of others, nor to condemn or shame them once you get them in the car or back home.” You will not regret it.
Lake, Rebecca. 23 Prom Night Statistics Every Parent Should Read. Retrieved on April 6, 2018, from https://www.creditdonkey.com/prom-night-statistics.html
“Prom Night & Teen Drinking: The Facts | Promises.” Alcohol and Alcoholism. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2018 <https://www.promises.com/articles/alcoholabuse/prom-night-teen-drinking-facts/>.
Kendrick, Carleton, Huffington Post. The Blog. Prom, Death and Sexual Assault: Helping Your Teen Make Safe, Smart Decisions — The Talk, The Ride, The Connection, The Offer. Retrieved on April 6, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/carleton-kendrick/prom-death-and-sexual-assault_b_3115940.html.