What every parent should know about prom night
It’s that time of year that hundreds of thousands of teens begin to prepare for the biggest dance of their lives: prom. Everything little detail gets checked off the list to get ready for this extravagant semi-formal affair. So much time and money go into making this a special night to remember. But beyond the hype of an exciting night, there are real dangers that can strike any prom-going teen and family in the U.S. These dangers can quickly turn one of the happiest nights into a terror-clenching nightmare. It’s not so much prom that’s the problem; it’s the afterparty. Before your teen heads out the door to dance the night away, take time to read the following information to ensure he or she arrives home safely.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the months of April through June are some of the most dangerous times of the year for teens. Approximately one-third of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving teens occur between these months.
Automobile accidents are the number one cause of death for young people ages 12 to 19. Prom night can be a particularly dangerous time with so many teens on the road late at night. A survey conducted by Liberty Mutual found that only 20% of juniors and seniors believed being on the roads on prom night was dangerous. If they only knew that approximately 1,000 youth under age 21 die each year in preventable tragedies while celebrating their high school proms and graduations (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
Drug and Alcohol Use
Not all teens make poor decisions on prom night, but many do. A lot of teens are looking for an opportunity to party and prom night provides the perfect storm for a catastrophic event to occur.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) surveyed teens aged 16-19, and 31% reported they or their friends would use drugs or alcohol during prom and graduation season. Approximately 53% of teens who admitted to drinking during or after the prom said they consumed four or more alcoholic beverages.
Drinking and Driving
According to AAA, 87% of teens reported their friends would be more likely to drive after drinking than to call home for a ride (especially if they thought they would get in trouble). Also concerning is approximately 19% of teens said they have ridden with someone who had been drinking rather than calling their parents to come and get them. Nearly 30% of teens know other peers who have received DUIs for impaired driving. Now if you’re thinking “not my teen”, here is another daunting statistic: About 90% of teens believe their classmates will likely drink and drive on prom night.
Peer acceptance can affect a teen’s decision-making skills, and that includes decisions to drink and take drugs.
Data from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Chrysler Group’s Road Ready Teens program found that 74% of teens felt pressured from peers to use alcohol on prom night and 49% said their friends pressured them to try drugs on prom night. These statistics show the power of peer influence and how heavily it weighs on the life of a teen.
Prom and Sex
In a study surveying 12,843 high school students, 14% of girls reported having sex on prom night, and 5% of those girls and 3% of boys lost their virginity on prom night. Nearly 53% of those surveyed also reported consuming alcohol on prom night. When alcohol is present there is a greater risk for sexual assault, and the majority of people who are victims of sexual assault know their perpetrator.
Many teens report getting alcohol from parents. Approximately 25% of teens (aged 12 to 20 years) reported getting alcohol from adults such as parents other family members (SAMHSA). However, parents can be a strong determinant in whether or not their teens drink. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens whose parents view underage drinking as unacceptable are 80% less likely to drink compared to peers whose parents are less strict. So clearly parents play an influential part in helping their teens make good decisions.
On a Final Note
Parents: take time to speak with your teen about making wise choices on prom night. This is a special and memorable time in your teen’s life. It should be one of fun, excitement, and safety. Don’t let an opportunity to educate your teen about the dangers of drugs and alcohol use pass you by.
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