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Prom night: 5 tips to keep your teen safe

Checklist to make sure prom is memorable for the right reasons

Prom is a rite of passage for many teens, but it can also result in a situation where your son or daughter might feel pressure to do more than dance.

“Prom, graduation and end-of-the-school-year parties are exciting times for teens,” said Lisa Elliott, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and clinic manager with Cook Children’s Denton Behavioral Health. “Parents have a right to know their teen’s plans and to find out whether alcohol or drugs will play a part.”

Having discussions with your teen about drinking and sex can be difficult, so don’t wait until he or she is slipping into formal wear. Let your son or daughter know that safety and trust are very important to you and you want him or her to make smart decisions.

“As teens firm up their prom plans, parents should get a detailed itinerary of exactly where they’ll be throughout the night and get any emergency numbers they might need,” Elliott said. “This includes the numbers for adults in charge of after parties or post-prom activities. Parents and teens need to be informed, and the more informed you are, the better! Teens can create safe, happy, lasting memories just by opening up the dialogue and making smart plans."

Elliott suggests the following checklist to make sure your teen’s prom is memorable for all the right reasons:

  1. Get those digits. This includes the numbers of a friend’s house or the after party at a local venue. Make sure you have any contact numbers and addresses you might need. Make sure the cell is charged up for the night.
  2. Know the code. Let your teen know to call you at any time, especially if he or she is in an uncomfortable situation. Decide on a code word or phrase ahead of time so your teen won’t be embarrassed if he or she needs to call.
  3. Offer street-smart tips. This could be the first “adult-like” event your teen attends without your presence. Talk about things that can happen – from getting a wallet or cell phone stolen to having a drug slipped in his or her drink – and discuss what to do if the teen makes a bad choice to drink or experiences a problem.
  4. Play the name game. Know who your teen will be with. If your teen has a date, call his or her parents and talk about your children’s plans for the night so you will all be on the same page.
  5. Take driving out of the equation. Many teens may want to drive themselves to the prom, but hiring a limo can be a great way to keep your teen from getting behind the wheel and make the prom more memorable. If your teen is going in a group, ask the other parents if they would be interested in splitting the cost. If your teen does drive, remind him or her to wear a seatbelt and to not get in a car with anyone who has been drinking.
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