“It’s 10 pm. Do you know where your children are?” – while this old PSA may seem outdated in today’s high tech world of cell phones and GPS, ironically, it may be more important than ever, especially on Prom Night. And we might want to add, “Do you know what your children are doing?”
Prom night. The thought evokes images of smiling teens, beautiful dresses, handsome, well coiffed young men and proud parents with cameras. But how about images of hormonal, impulsive, and unsupervised teenagers? “On prom night, many parents tend to allow their teenagers 24 hours without much supervision. With this much time, kids tend to make bad decisions,” warns Lt. Chris Viland of the Solon Police Department.
Prom Safety Tips, Monitoring Your Teen’s Behavior
Parents are becoming more and more comfortable relying on cell phones for supervision of their teens, feeling that as long as they are in contact, their child is safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. While no parent wants to admit their own child might lie, teenagers are not always honest about where they are and what they are doing. “Don’t be afraid to make that phone call,” Lt. Viland advises. “The phone call that says ‘Hi, my name is Joe Smith and my son/daughter says they are coming to your house tonight. I just want to be sure you will be there.'” On the other end, don’t be offended to receive this call. “This communication needs to happen,” states Viland. “Parents need to be honest with each other. Supervision and proper chaperoning are crucial for the safety of our kids, especially on prom night.” Even good kids make bad decisions.
The Solon Police Department faces another big problem on Prom night – parents who enable teenage drinking. There is a belief that teenagers are going to drink alcohol on Prom night no matter what, so it would be safer for them to drink in a controlled environment – i.e. in my basement. “This is not the way to go,” emphasizes Lt. Viland. “Underage drinking is against the law,” he reminds us. Parents can be held both criminally and civilly liable if underage drinking occurs in their home. There is the affiliated moral issue, as well: “Who are you to usurp my parental decision and determine that it is ok for my child to drink?” As a parent himself, Lt. Viland finds this type of adult behavior unacceptable. “What type of message does that send to my child?”
Teenagers can have fun without the use of alcohol and drugs. Parents must communicate that message. The High School administration can also help. Most schools take this very seriously and are great about supervision and checking on the kids. Check with your school administrators, PTO and post-prom committee find out what they are doing to chaperone your kids.
Finally Lt. Viland emphasizes the most important thing parents can do: “Parents must articulate clear expectations and acceptable standards of behavior. This is the best preventative measure they can take. It’s no guarantee – but it certainly helps.”
On Prom night will you know where your kids are and what they are doing?