Prom is a huge deal for millions of high school teenagers who attend the dance at the end of the school year. Girls spend countless hours selecting the perfect dress while the guys try to figure out the best way to ask out their dates. Prom typically occurs at the end of the school year when many seniors are facing their upcoming high school graduation. Unfortunately, prom is also a time when many teenagers will experiment with alcohol and drugs.
Students and their parents usually spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on the event, dresses or tuxedos, accommodations for before and after parties, and even transportation. Prom should be fun, but parents need to be aware of their teen’s whereabouts and what he or she will be doing before, during, and after the prom. Unfortunately, many teenagers will still make the horrible choice to drink and drive or they may choose to ride with an intoxicated driver. According to this article, research shows that 70% of high school juniors and seniors expect their peers to drink and drive on prom night. Why? Prom season typically occurs at the end of the year during the “senior slump”, when high school seniors are feeling liberated and free. This feeling can result in teenagers feeling invincible, which may lead them to make poor decisions.
Schools have tried to combat this effect by implementing preventative measures including chaperones, drug sniffing dogs, and by allowing entry only once. Some schools even have mock scenes of DUI accidents to discourage drinking and driving. Other schools will punish students who are drunk or high at prom by not allowing them to walk at graduation with the rest of their peers. However, even these precautions do not always work and their effects are not well documented.
This article provides some startling statistics concerning drinking and driving during prom season. More than one-third of youth under the age of 21 killed in alcohol-related fatalities in 2001 died during the months of April, May, and June according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2001 alone, 2,950 children under 21 died in alcohol-related traffic fatalities – 1,012 died during the months of April, May and June.
Not every teenager will choose to drink during prom, yet there is still the prevailing attitude that drinking equates to a good time and being drunk is a great way to celebrate. Parents need to take the initiative to make sure their children are not provided with alcohol when they are underage. Parents should also make sure their children know they can call them anytime if they don’t have a safe ride.