By Gigi Zenk and Mary Segawa
Proms, graduations and the parties surrounding them can be an exciting time for teens and parents that they usually can remember throughout their lives. But they can also be a time of heartbreak. There are all too often negative consequences, serious injuries, and even deaths. While drunk driving is not the only concern, of all the alcohol-related fatalities involving teens and driving each year, close to one-third of them take place during the months of April, May and June – prom and graduation season. But through planning and prevention we can head off these problems.
The good news is that two out of three high school seniors choose not to drink alcohol (2014 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey.) It is important to recognize teens for the healthy choices they are making and reinforce how good choices will help them now and in the future.
Parents and other adults can help keep teens safe by being informed and prepared. Keep the lines of communication open. Be sure to talk with your kids about underage drinking and the importance of making good decisions and be sure to be clear about your expectations.
Following are some tips for both parents and teens.
Safety Tips for Parents:
- Remember that you are the primary influence on your teen.
- Set clear rules about not drinking, and enforce consequences for breaking them.
- Offer to plan, host, and supervise a graduation party; assure parents the party will be alcohol-free.
- Require adult supervision at every celebration your teen attends.
- Know who will be driving your teen to and from the celebration.
- Remind your teen that, under any circumstance, you will be there to pick them up or help them, no questions asked.
- Don't be afraid to ask your teen to "check in" while they are out.
- Get tips for talking to your teen at www.StartTalkingNow.org.
Safety Tips for Graduates and Teens Going to Prom:
- Never drink and drive! Do not get into a car with a driver who has been drinking.
- Remember you can always say "no" and do not have to do anything you do not want to do.
- If it doesn't feel safe, it probably isn't. Trust your instincts.
- Watch out for your friends and have them do the same for you.
- Never be afraid to call your parents or a trusted adult.
Graduation and attending prom should be one of the most memorable times in your and your child's lives. Talk with them and keep communication lines open to keep them and their friends safe.