“It’s 10 p.m. 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 While this old PSA may seem outdated in today’s high tech world of cell phones and GPS, ironically, it may be more important than ever, especially on Prom night.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 evening 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,” warns Chris Viland, Solon, Ohio Chief of Police. “With this much time, kids tend to make bad decisions.”
3 Tips for a Safe Prom Night
1. Know where your teen is and whom they are with.
Parents are becoming more and more comfortable relying on cell phones for supervision of their teens. There’s a 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,” Chief 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.
2. Do not allow drinking.
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. Some parents feel that it would be safer for them to drink in a controlled environment (like their basement). “This is not the way to go,” emphasizes Chief 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 someone else’s parental decision and determine that it is okay for their child to drink?” As a parent himself, Chief 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.
3. Set clear expectations about the evening.
Chief 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?