Six Ways to Make Prom Night Safer for Your Teenager

You want your teenager to have a fun prom night, but this can be a time when their wellness is really at risk. After-prom parties pose such threats to your child’s wellbeing as underage drinking, drugs, sex, and the possibility of drinking and driving. This is why you need to communicate with your teenager before the prom, and create a few safety nets so that he or she does have fun and memories – but also has no regrets and comes home safely. With that in mind, we spoke to family wellness expert and educational psychologist Dr. Michele Borba, author of Parents Do Make a Difference: How to Raise Kids With Solid Character, Strong Minds, and Caring Hearts, to find out how to make prom night safer.


1. Reach Out: Dr. Borba advises, ‘Talk to other parents about post-event activities to ensure alcohol won’t be present. Identify alcohol-free activities and safe driving policies. Go to the school (usually there are parents meetings about the event) and listen so you know the plans. You can also discuss those with your teen so [he or she] knows you’re in the loop.’


2. Get on Board with Other Like-Minded Parents: ‘Talk to parents of your teen’s friends or his or her date,’ Dr. Borba instructs. ‘Set clear curfews that ideally match each others’. It’s a lot easier to say to a teen: “We all feel…” Many parents meet prior to a prom and grad night to agree on rules and the “plan.” Many parents also join together to have dinner parties in their own homes (the junior class can be the waiters) and after-prom parties that are safe and alcohol free.’


3. Set Clear Rules and Boundaries: Dr. Borba recommends, ‘“No drinking, co-ed sleepovers. Be where you say you will be – no leaving the prom.” Set a curfew, and clear consequences about breaking those rules. You also may want to review rules on photo taking – “Only pictures from a professional photographer” should be permitted. You don’t want inappropriate photos of teens plastered on their Facebook pages and seen by the rest of the world the following day (and every other day of their lives).’


4. Say NO to Hotel Room Rentals: ‘You know teens will not be ordering tea and crumpets with these hotel room rentals,’ says Dr. Borba. ‘Say NO! If you do agree, remember you are libel for the safety of those kids as well as the hotel property (which is usually on your credit card.)’


5. Don’t Underrate Your Influence: According to Dr. Borba, ‘Parents are the primary influence on their teens so you must talk about your expectations and your concerns. Research finds that parents who talk about the dangers of drinking with teens have teens who did much less drinking (compared with students who didn’t have that “talk” with their parents). You should be talking about alcohol many times anyway. These big nights are just more opportunities.’


6. Use the News to Connect the Dots: ‘Our “lectures” or talks about what happened in the “old days” don’t connect with teens, but often actual events do,’ Dr. Borba asserts. ‘So try combing the news to find a real story as your talk opener. “Did you hear sad story about what happened to the teens at their prom night?” (Unfortunately there are tragic stories every May and June about teens in car crashes so search the news). Talk about how drinking and drugs can cause you to lose your inhibitions, do things you might regret later, and even lead to accidents and death.’

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