Prom is one of the most memorable nights for teenagers. You spend months picking out the perfect dress, the right color of flowers, and the right hairstyle. It quickly becomes a night to remember. However, it is also a night full of responsibility and making the right decisions. Unfortunately, the influence of alcohol and peer pressure is heightened, and 70% of teens are expected to illegally drink and drive at prom. Also, the use of drugs increases. Research from Mothers against Drunk Driving and Chrysler found that nearly 49 percent of teenagers are encouraged by friends to try drugs on prom night. However, there are ways to plan ahead and help your child stay safe and sober.
One of the most important ways to stay safe and sober is to be prepared. Peer pressure is a huge part of a teenager’s life. There is a need to be accepted among peers. However, teenagers need to be aware of the fact that while they are being responsible, they also need to watch out for others around them. Some people will decide to drink or use drugs and will encourage others. It is okay to say, “No” and walk away, when faced with the question.
Adolescents can also be leaders for others. Call it positive peer pressure. If a teenager is having a great time at prom and staying sober, others will follow. They will see you can have an even better night without being intoxicated and the memories will stay with you. Sometimes seeing and hearing advice for other teenagers is more impactful than advice from adults.
Fellow teen and prom lover, Savannah Norris, advises, “prom is known for the after parties. It’s easy to find yourself drinking, even if you didn’t intend to. The most important thing to remember is, if it happens, don’t be too embarrassed or nervous to call someone for help. If you feel uncomfortable about a situation, call someone. If you don’t feel sober enough to drive and don’t want your parents to find out, be safe about it and call anyway. Sometimes it’s easier to call an older brother, aunt, or uncle. Parental consequences are always better than a DUI or, even worse, death.
Parents can have an influence on their teenagers by talking with them about the dangers of drinking. Discuss the rules of the night with your teenager, both your rules and the school’s. Make them aware of the consequences if they violate them. Also, reassure them that if they are under the influence of alcohol, it is okay to call you, instead of driving. Parents should also be aware of the details for the entire evening. Know the location of the events, who is going to be there, and if needed, check out the locations ahead of time.
One way to help prevent drinking is for teenagers to have a fun evening planned and to stick with it. Some ideas could include dinner at a nice restaurant, then going to prom, and ending the night with an after-event, such as bowling, going for ice-cream, or having a late night breakfast at a friend’s house. Also, consider going in a group. Yes, you can still go with a date, but going in with a group of friends gives you something to look forward to and gives you a chance to hang out.
Be sure to know who is driving at all times. Plan out all the transportation ahead of time. This way you’ll know if a limo service is needed, or a parent pick-up. Teenagers should never get in a car with someone who has been drinking. If a friend is intoxicated, make sure they don’t get behind the wheel. Car accidents are the number one cause of death for adolescents, ages 12 to 19, and a third of the alcohol-related fatalities happen during prom season.
The responsibilities of prom night can be broken down into three simple ideas: 1) being intoxicated can ruin the experience for yourself, your date, and your friends; 2) you’ll worry, and possibly cause pain for, those who care about you; and 3) you don’t need help from alcohol and drugs to make prom great. Prom night is one of the best times of your life. Dance like no one is watching, take silly pictures, and have fun with your friends. Also, make it a priority to stay safe and sober. After all, prom is supposed to be memorable. Twenty years from that night, don’t you still want to remember the good times?
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