23 May Keeping Your Teen Safe through Prom/Graduation Season
Prom and graduation season is a very exciting time for teens and their parents! It is a time to celebrate some big events in a young person’s life. However it is also a time when teens take part in high risk behaviors. Some of these risks can include drunk driving, drug use, binge drinking, rape, and unprotected sex. Teens are at a time in their lives when they are going to make poor decisions. As a Camp Director for several years at a local YMCA, I have had first hand experience working with and supervising this age group. The brightest and best staff would sometimes make poor choices. Afterall teen brains are still under construction and does not fully develop or mature until the age of twenty-five. As a parent, understanding this will hopefully help you guide your teen or young adult to make good choices.
Engaging your child in discussions on what the rules and expectations are, and what the potential consequences may be will help to keep your teen safe. Here is a list ideas to assist you talk to your child.
1. Ask that your child give our their itinerary for the night. It’s important for you to be in the know! It also helps to talk to other parents to make sure everyone is on the same page.
2. Mandate that they have their cell phone on them. They need their phone so that you can check in throughout the night and vice versa. They should also be aware that if the plan changes that you need to be notified. Also, as a parent, and if appropriate, you may be able to track your child’s cell phone location which may be helpful in monitoring.
3. Know what the travel arrangements are. Will they be taking a limo, a friend’s car, their car, etc.? Who is driving? Do you trust the driver? Does the limo company have a policy on alcohol in the vehicle? Offer yourself as an on call driver to pick up him/her and their friends and get them safely home. Auto accidents are the biggest danger during prom and graduation nights.
4. Be wary of any pre or post parties, especially ones that are not supervised. This can create unnecessary risk for your teen.
5. Have a curfew for the night. You must decide what is fair and acceptable.
6. Make sure that you communicate your rules clearly and make sure your child knows that these rules are non-negotiable.
It’s not easy being a parent. You know your child better than anyone so trust your gut and share your knowledge. Remember you were a teen once. All you can do is equip your child with the tools and resources that will help them get through this life moment safely.