It’s the time of year that high school students are looking forward to prom. Picking out the perfect prom dress, renting tuxes, planning out a great evening are just a few of the things teenagers have on their minds. Although you as parents are excitedly helping your children prepare for a wonderful and memorable prom, I’m sure you’ve thought about the risks that are so often associated with prom night. How can we keep our children safe while still allowing them to have fun at their prom?
Dr. Solari and Fonda Harrell, FNP agree that one of the biggest ways to help keep your children safe is to talk to them about the risks they may face on prom night. Doing so will allow you to bring to light some of the issues that they may have to face that your child may not have otherwise prepared for. It also gives you a chance to plant options in their minds for when they are faced with peer pressure instead of trusting they will be able to come up with excuses on the spot when they are placed in tough situations. Help your children plan ahead, thinking of ways they can respond when pressured into doing something dangerous. Make your child feel more secure by planning an “escape” from dangerous situations, such as date violence and even rape. The more that you can plan, the more it will give you and your child ease looking forward to the night knowing there is a way to stay safe.
Dr. Solari points out that “trust is a big factor”. He recommends that parents must first decide how much they trust their teenager. If the teenager has not earned your trust, you may need to consider options of how to ensure their safety. Some options that Dr. Solari suggests are as follows: have your teenager go with a group of other students, have your teenager check in by calling or texting at certain times, drive your teenager to and from the prom and after-events. He also recommends setting a reasonable curfew for prom night, even if you have full confidence in your teenager.
Fonda discussed the risks associated with alcohol and substance abuse. She recommends advising your teenager not to “drink alcohol or use any other substance that may cause you to be unable to recall one of the most memorable nights of your life.” Remind your teenager that, in addition to this, when they drink or use drugs, they are participating in illegal activities and that there are consequences for these actions at home, at school, and with the law. This could also result in other serious problems such as alcohol poisoning, jail time, or, if they or their friends drink and drive, they could face injuries to themselves or others that could be permanent or even deadly.
In addition to life-long consequences of drinking alcohol, they also may face consequences for life if they choose to engage in sexual behavior. Remind children that there is no such thing as “safe sex”, but that they should practice abstinence. Choosing to engage in sexual behaviors puts them at risk for suffering from STD’s (that may or may not be permanent) and also allows the possibility of pregnancy which will rob them of their youth.
It is our job as parents to protect our children as much as possible. Take the necessary steps to protect even the most trust-worthy of teenagers to ensure that they have the best and safest prom night of their lives!
A summary of ideas to discuss as well as a few more things to consider:
- Discuss your trust and a reasonable “prom night” curfew.
- Develop plans with your teenager for peer-pressure and possible dangers.
- Speak with your child about the risks involved with alcohol and drugs.
- Encourage your teen not to leave their drink unattended. If they do, they should throw it away and get a new one.
- Discuss rules and consequences of your family, the school, and the law.
- Discuss potential dangers of sex.
- Stay up and await your teen’s arrival home on prom night.
- Ensure that your teen’s cell phone is fully charged before leaving for prom.
- Do not rent hotel rooms for your teen.
- Ensure your child that they may call you at any time for any help and assure them you will not embarrass them.
- Be aware of what plans your teen has for after-prom activities and how they will be transported.
These ideas were gathered from Dr. Solari, Fonda Harrell, FNP and http://www.sadd.org/promtoolkit.htm. For more information and ideas, http://www.sadd.org/promtoolkit.htm is a useful resource for parents and teenagers in preparing for a fun and safe prom night!