For high school students, excitement is in the air come the end of the school year. While graduation might be just over the horizon, prom is foremost on the minds of many students.
Many schools celebrate prom with a dance and dinner on campus or at a rented venue. Prom is a chance for students to socialize and reminisce before graduating from high school.
Prom can be a celebration of past friendships and a way to make new memories, but it should be remembered for all of the right reasons. By playing it safe, prom can be an experience students cherish for the rest of their lives. Both students and parents can take steps to ensure prom night is as safe as it is fun.
- Be an involved parent. Involved parenting is the best way to make prom night safe. Parents should take an active roll in understanding prom plans and set ground rules. Too often parents contribute to poor prom decisions, such as setting the tone for the night with toasts or encouraging potentially dangerous behavior by organizing hotel stays or large parties. Parents should have a detailed itinerary of their children’s prom night plans, including schedules, who will be accompanying kids to the prom and any post-prom activities. Request check-in calls or text messages, and set a curfew.
- Avoid scare tactics. In the weeks leading up to prom, school districts and police departments often stage mock automobile crashes to illustrate the dangers of distracted driving or driving while intoxicated. But studies have shown these tactics do not have long-term benefits. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health found that programs relying on scare tactics to prevent children and adolescents from engaging in certain behaviors are not only ineffective, but also may have adverse effects. Being open and honest with students and treating them like adults may be a more effective way to get through to them. Let them know you are available at all hours if they do not feel comfortable in a situation or need a ride home.
- Provide adult supervision. The prom and after-parties should be supervised by responsible adults. Although it may not eliminate all opportunities for risky behavior, adequate supervision will serve as a deterrent.
- Encourage students to think before acting. Many students view prom as a deadline for certain perceived rites of passage. They may believe prom is the time to drink or try drugs for the first time or to go further intimately with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Parents should encourage kids to think before acting, letting them know that prom is not a night to throw caution to the wind and experiment.