The facts of a very real life

It’s hard to believe that prom season is upon us already, but at least one area school will hold its annual dance tonight and more will take place during the next few weeks.

Every year as prom time approaches, we have graphic photos on our front page of young accident victims.

Fortunately, the bloodied teens pictured are not actually victims of an accident, but instead were area high school students participating in a mock accident to make teens aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, especially during prom season. A mock accident was held recently at Southern Local High School, which kicks off the prom season with its dance tonight.

This is an exciting time of year for high school students, but it can also be dangerous, and sometimes deadly, when alcohol and a lack of responsibility are combined with that special night.

That is why it’s important that parents talk with their teens about the consequences of drinking alcohol or abusing drugs, not just on prom night, but any time.

Teens must know that drinking alcohol during their big night does not make them adults. Parents must be sure their teens know the rules before proms are held.

Parents should teach teens that they should not get into the car with any driver who has been drinking or doing drugs, but teens must know they are responsible for their own actions.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MADD, offers a primer for teens and their parents:

¯ A teen should know his or her date. If it was an arranged date, be sure they get together with their prom partner before their big night, and parents should get to know who the date is, too.

¯ Curfews should be made clear.

¯ A parent or other adult friend or relative should be available on prom night in case the teen needs assistance.

¯ Teens need to know that parents must be kept informed of plans and if the plans change, the teens should know to call to tell the family just where they’re going and when.

And, if despite all the precautions, teens find themselves in situations involving drunken people who are attempting to drive, or if the teen himself becomes intoxicated, parents should let him (or her) know that they can be called at any time to come get their child. Save the lectures for the following day, but make sure the teen knows they have a safety net, no matter what.

Today’s parents and teens are busy, not just with prom details, but also, perhaps, with sports and other extracurricular activities and preparing for graduation. But being busy shouldn’t keep parents from taking the time to talk with their teens about the dangerous facts of life in the adult world.