Make Safety a Prom Priority for Teens

Metro Editorial
Posted

There is a bustle of activity that takes place during prom and graduation season. With so much going on, caution often takes a backseat to other issues. However, it is important to keep safety in mind during prom and graduation season.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than one-third of alcohol related traffic fatalities involving teenagers occur during the peak prom and graduation months of April, May and June. Prom and graduation are times for celebration. Too often festivities include drugs and alcohol, even for teens who are under the legal drinking age.

According to the"Monitoring the Future" study which surveys U.S. youth, three-quarters of 12th graders, more than two-thirds of 10th graders, and about two in every five 8th graders have consumed alcohol. Many of these underage drinkers participate in binge drinking, where five or more drinks are consumed at one time.

Apart from alcohol consumption, many teens view prom night as the opportunity to lose their virginity or have sex with their date. Although prom can be an important rite of passage in one's life, it doesn't necessarily mean there has to be a correlation between leaving high school and losing one's virginity. All too often teen virgins see themselves in the minority during high school, and many view prom night as a chance to join the perceived majority.

Although sex can be a positive experience, it carries with it inherent risks, including pregnancy, disease, emotional scarring, and even legal issues. Depending on where a teen lives, there can be age of consent laws that restrict individuals from being intimate until a certain age. Those who don't comply risk legal action.

However, alcohol isn't the only drug of choice popping up at teen social events. Marijuana and cocaine continue to be popular choices, while many other teens are abusing prescription drugs as well. It has become popular to crush and snort pain relief drugs, like oxycodone, to provide a fast high. Instead of meeting up with dealers on the street corner, many teens get their drugs straight out of their parents' medicine cabinets.

Alcohol consumption, drug use and sex are three separate concerns on prom night. When teens combine alcohol consumption with drug use and/or sexual behavior, the results can be disasterous. Individuals under the influence of alcohol or drugs cannot make sound judgements. They may engage in risky behavior and regret the decisions when they are sober and things cannot be reversed.

Here, a few considerations high-schoolers attending prom should keep  in mind to be safe and have a good time:

* Don't feel pressured to do anything you don't want to do. Mingle with the same friends with whom you feel comfortable and enjoy the night.

* Set rules for yourself that include no drinking or drugs.

* Team up with a friend so that you can get help from him or her should you get into trouble.

* Plan to go home after the prom, not to a hotel room.

* Enjoy the night and create lasting positive memories.