Planning for Prom: A Focus on Student Safety

For high school students across the country, prom season is just kicking off.

And, while they work on finding the perfect dress or tux, debating the merits of renting a limo, and a host of other details, it’s important to remind them to keep safety in mind. It’s not anything that anyone wants to talk about, but it’s an important topic that everyone—parents, schools, and students alike—NEED to discuss.

Statistically speaking, prom season is a dangerous time for teens. 53% of students reported consuming more than 4 alcoholic drinks on prom night1, yet 87% of teens surveyed felt their friends would be more willing to drive after drinking than call home for a ride?2 Beyond alcohol use, prom (and graduation) seasons see increases in teen traffic deaths3, and there is a perceived increase in teen sexual activity.

To help schools and districts begin countering these dangers, we’ve gathered several tips to help keep students safe—not only at prom, but in a variety of situations now, in college, and beyond.

  1. Set Expectations
    Share your school policies involving student behavior, including drugs and alcohol, and make sure students know the consequences—not only with students, but also parents. Keeping students safe is a group effort.
     
  2. Choose Chaperones with Care
    Consider recruiting faculty and staff that students will connect with to be present during the event—a student may be more inclined to share information about their peers risky behavior with a favorite teacher or feel more accountable for personal behavior when a coach or authoritative figure is present.
     
  3. Plan for Post-Prom
    If you don’t already, consider hosting a post-prom event to provide Prom-goers a fun (and safe) place to go after the dance instead of them potentially going to a party where alcohol and other substances may put your students at risk.

  1. Look Out for Each Other
    Peer pressure is a constant for today’s teens. Be the one willing to take a stance against involving reckless and/or distracted driving, alcohol, drugs, or other risky behaviors during Prom. Your life—and those of your friends—may depend on it.
     
  2. Have a Plan for After Prom
    Planning ahead is always a good idea! Ensure you and your friends have a fun AND safe place to go after the dance is over. Some schools even host a post prom party with games and prizes, so be sure to explore your options.
     
  3. Give the Chaperones a Break
    While it may be a little frustrating to have your dance moves observed by teachers and/or parents, chaperones are there for a reason. Believe it or not, they DO want you to enjoy prom, they just want to keep everyone safe—including you.

  1. Have Open Communication
    Having an open conversation that not only talks about your expectations as a parent, but provides your child(ren) the opportunity to ask questions can go a long way. Don’t take the joy out of prom—it’s an exciting time!—but don’t let them head out unprepared either.
     
  2. Know the Schedule
    Try not to hover too much, but make sure you know where your teen is going, who they are going with, when they can be expected, and how you can contact them. Even something so simple as letting your child know you’ll be waiting up to ‘hear all about it’ can create a sense of accountability.
     
  3. Have “The Talk”
    Talking to your teen about sex, alcohol, drugs, and other risky behaviors is a must. Be sure to explain potential consequences in a way that they’ll understand and reinforce that you don’t condone such behavior. And don’t assume it’s falling on deaf ears. A survey by MADD found that teens whose parents have a clear stance against underage drinking are 80% less likely to drink than those with more lenient parents.

Beyond prom, there are tips that you should employ regardless of your surroundings. Listen in on the video below as Anne Yatch, Personal Safety Expert and former International Security and Anti-Terrorism Specialist, shares her personal insights on taking ownership of safety.

Empower students, teachers, staff, and parents with the skills needed to take ownership of their own safety with specialized online learning resources focused on ensuring learners know how to trust their instincts, increase their observation skills, and develop an action plan for when faced with potential threats, with specialized online learning resources designed to answer common questions such as:

Interested in preparing your school or district with Real World Safety skills? Contact Atomic Learning today.

SOURCES:
1. http://www.statisticbrain.com/prom-night-statistics/
2. http://mn-ia.aaa.com/safety/aaapromise.aspx
3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carleton-kendrick/prom-death-and-sexual-assault_b_3115940.html

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