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Title: Don’t Waste the Night, Celebrate Right

By Kimberly Cuthrell, Chief, Bureau of Behavioral Health

As sure as spring brings May flowers, it also brings a flurry of activity as teens prepare for prom night and graduation celebrations. Parents share the excitement, but also worry about the safety of their children. In the adolescent mind, planning an unforgettable prom night or memorable graduation party may involve high-risk behavior such as alcohol/drug use or unprotected sexual activity.

Talk to your teens about alcohol and drug use

Research has shown that the area of the brain that helps teens assess short and long term consequences is not fully developed until the mid-twenties. Prom and graduation season presents an opportunity for parents to talk with their teens about their expectations and rules.

Teens need approachable, well-informed parents to discuss issues such as alcohol and other drug use with them. In fact, parental disapproval has been shown to be a significant reason why some youth choose not to drink. The time to begin this “heart-to-heart” conversation is long before any celebration. 

Help prevent fatal teen car crashes 

A common concern of parents during this season is the risk of impaired driving and the possibility of fatal outcomes. Car crashes continue to be the number one cause of death among teens. Accidents can happen at any time for teen drivers, but the chances of being involved are higher at night and on weekends. Almost one third of teen motor vehicle deaths occur in April, May and June.

Students who attend after prom parties are assured an alcohol and drug free evening. Adult support is essential in planning after prom parties that successfully keep students entertained throughout the night and off the roads.

Safe & Sober Prom Season Guide

If you are the parent/guardian of a high school student, use the Baltimore County Department of Health’s Safe & Sober Prom Season 2017 Parent Guide and Pledge Book. This valuable tool is a “must-have” for parents. The booklet includes information about what parents can do to encourage driver safety, support after prom events, and chose a transportation company that has made a commitment to not allow alcohol in their vehicles.

Do your part to be sure the high school students in your life “celebrate right” with a safe and sober prom and graduation season.  


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Revised September 26, 2016