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Prom night safety is a priority for parents

04-11-2018 (Akron, Ohio )

Prom night is one of the most exciting events in a teen’s life. While making dinner reservations and shopping for an elegant dress or sharp tux are high on your teen’s to-do list, prom safety probably won’t cross his or her mind.

Safety, however, is the primary prom-related concern for parents. They especially worry about the risky behaviors associated with prom, including driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population, despite the fact that they cannot legally purchase or publicly possess alcohol in any state.

“No matter how strong the relationship is between a parent and child, many parents are still unaware of the choices teens face every day," said Heather Trnka, injury prevention supervisor at Akron Children's Hospital. "For parents to successfully reach their teens, they need to approach safety issues in more direct ways."

As the big night nears, Akron Children's Hospital offers several steps parents can take to ensure their children have a safe prom night and many more special nights for years to come:

  • Talk to your teen about her prom plans and how to deal with situations that could arise at parties. Prepare your child for peer pressure. Brainstorm ways to say “no” to substances.
  • Give your teen the unconditional option of calling home at any time for help or advice. This includes picking him up without any questions asked until the morning when friends are not around. If your child is riding in a limo, make sure it is one that does not allow underage drinking and drug use.
  • Set a curfew based on past behavior, but be reasonable.
  • Make sure you can reach your child at all times. Ask for a complete itinerary for the evening, including a list of friends, where your teen is going after prom and the phone numbers.
  • Don’t allow your teen to attend a hotel room party. Instead, encourage her to attend school sponsored after-prom parties. Many schools offer events as safe, fun alternatives to private parties. They feature food, entertainment, prizes and a “lock-in” policy.
  • Learn who will be chaperoning the prom and after-parties. Since some parents allow underage drinking, be sure to speak directly with any parents supervising after-parties your teen wishes to attend. It is illegal for adults to serve alcohol or knowingly allow anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol, even in their own home, and they can be fined and prosecuted for doing so.  

Take the Safe Driving Pledge

As part of Akron Children’s Safe Mobility Project, a collaboration with The Goodyear Foundation, parents and teens can create and sign a safe driving contract.

The pledge includes pre-formatted driver safety tips to prevent accidents as well as an opportunity for each family to personalize the agreement (covering such areas as academics, chores or insurance payments). Use this driving pledge as a tool to guide discussion about driving expectations as a family. The contract can be found at: https://bit.ly/2GTMJ9R