High school graduation is an exciting time for seniors including special ceremonies, junior/senior high proms and after-parties to attend, with prom safety rarely crossing their minds. High school proms can be very expensive events when you consider the cost of prom dresses, tuxedos, prom tickets and photos, stretch limos, dining in extravagant restaurants, flowers or corsages, special occasion hairstyles and French manicures, often creating an tab reaching $1,000 or more.
For many parents the biggest concern isn’t the cost of attending prom or buying graduation gifts, but parents tend to worry more about the risky behaviors associated with proms, teens driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, unsafe sex leading to teenage pregnancy, and how to ensure their son or daughter arrives home safely after attending prom.
Prom night always seems to include news reports of drunk-driving accidents and deaths, date rape, pregnancies or STDs, where teens display poor judgment and make dangerous choices. The following prom safety tips can help keep you or your teens safe, lessen the fear and anxiety often accompanying prom night, thereby making this special occasion something to enjoy and remember with fond memories.
High School Senior Prom Safety Checklist:
- Who will be doing the driving? Will they drive themselves or rent a limo?
- If driving themselves, keep a list of names and phone numbers of each teen rider, along with names and addresses of all the parents. Insist that the car radio be kept at a low volume, limit the number of teen passengers to minimize distractions for the driver, and require each teen to buckle up his or her seat belt.
- Get a complete itinerary, including who your teen will be partying with, addresses and phone numbers for the prom location as well as any after-parties your teen plans to attend.
- If your teen will be renting a limo, be sure to check the limo company’s driving record, and don’t be afraid to ask the company to provide it to you.
- Does your teen know how to contact you throughout the evening? Consider arranging specific check-in times, and make sure you can contact your teen throughout the entire night.
- Communicate with your teen specifically about how she would handle difficult situations such as being offered a ride by an intoxicated driver, being offered alcohol or drugs, or pressure to have sex. Be sure to provide parental instruction on how best to deal with problems that may arise.
- Insist that there are to be no changes made to the itinerary without your prior approval, and make that a firm rule with no exceptions allowed.
- Find out who will be supervising the prom and after-parties. Be sure to speak directly with any parents supervising after-parties your teen wishes to attend, since some parents may allow underage drinking, and may not have the same set of morals and values that you do.
- Consider volunteering to assist in supervising the prom or after-parties your teen will attend, which will help ensure there are enough responsible adults watching over the party-goers.
- Have very specific and detailed conversations with your teen about alcohol consumption, driving under the influence, drug use and sex, as peer pressure often leads teens to use poor judgment before, during and after prom.
- Make sure your teen has phone numbers to trustworthy cab companies programmed into his cell phone, and plenty of money to cover the cost of a cab ride, if deemed necessary for any reason.
- Will someone in the home wait up until the teen arrives back home safely? If so, who?
Senior Prom Statistics Parents Need to Know:
- Contrary to what you may hear or see, most teens aren’t drinking. 81% of adolescents age 12 to 17 have chosen NOT to drink in the past year. [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)]
- 65% of 12th graders disapprove of consuming five or more drinks once or twice each weekend. [National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse]
- You may be alive today because the legal drinking age is 21. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates these laws have saved over 18,820 lives from 1975-1999 [NHTSA]
- Females process alcohol differently than males; smaller amounts of alcohol are more intoxicating for females regardless of their size. [NHTSA]
- The same amount of alcohol is in a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 12-ounce wine cooler, and a 5-ounce glass of wine.
- Among male high school students, 39% say it is acceptable for a boy to force sex with a girl who is drunk or high. [US Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- Even though youth are less likely than adults to drive after drinking, their crash rates are substantially higher. [National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
- Alcohol is the #1 youth drug problem [Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP); it kills six times more people under 21 than all other illicit drugs combined. [Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), Ted Miller, Ph,D.]
- 70% of teens killed on prom weekends are not wearing seat belts. [NHTSA]
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury in teenagers nationwide. [Centers for Disease Control (CDC)]
- High school students who drink are seven times more likely to have had sexual intercourse and are less likely to use condoms increasing their risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
As I told my daughter prior to her senior prom, her job was to have fun at prom and my job was to make sure she was alive and well the next day to talk about it.