For teens, the end of the school year ushers in a season of celebrations: proms, graduations and parties. For parents, though, this season of joy can be tempered by worry. Teens are more at risk for car accidents during prom and graduation season. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one-third of all alcohol-related teen driving fatalities occur between April and June. While that’s a frightening figure, parents can take measures to ensure their child’s safety. Our Prevention Specialist Sonia Santiago had these tips for parents.
TALK WITH YOUR CHILD AHEAD OF TIME – don’t leave the conversation until the day of, start the conversation now.
- Tell them you love them and your primary concern is their health and safety.
- Talk about plans for post prom and graduation festivities. Share thoughts on situations that might arise and discuss how to handle them.
DISCUSS THE RULES – help relieve stressful situations by being clear and consistent about rules and expectations.
- Know where your teen is, when they will be leaving the graduation, prom and after party.
- Set a curfew.
- Make it clear you will wait up and you’ll know if he or she gets home on time.
KNOW WHO IS DRIVING
- If your teen is riding in a limo, limit number of passenger to ensure there are enough seat belts, and check the company’s policy on allowing alcohol in the vehicle.
- Offer other options such as driving them yourself or other public transportation in your community (Uber, taxi). Make sure they have money to cover alternative transportation.
- If your child is driving, establish safe-driving rules (no texting & driving, wear seat-belt, obey the speed limit, keep both hands on the wheel).
- Be clear about who is allowed and who is not allowed in the car.
TALK ABOUT ALCOHOL & DRUGS
- Discuss the dangers associated with drinking.
- Explain that the consequences and risks extend beyond their teen years.
- Remind them that it only takes one bad decision to potentially ruin their future.
- Ask them NOT to drink or use other substances.
MAKE SURE YOUR TEEN’S PHONE IS FULLY CHARGED
- Arrange specific check-in times and keep your phone nearby.
- Plan with your teen what they should do if they find themselves in an unsafe situation.
- Get a list of names and phone numbers of anyone who will be with your teenager.
HOST AN ALCOHOL & DRUG FREE AFTER PARTY
- Plan your own, adult-supervised, drug and alcohol free after-party.
- Some parents feel that hosting a house party where alcohol is served to minors will keep them safe. It is against the law. Teen drinking is always dangerous.
- Keeping teens safe and healthy should be the parents primary concern.
HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH OTHER PARENTS
- Make sure other parents are all on the same page about alcohol-free festivities.