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There is still time to talk

April 26, 2011
Morning Journal News

In the past two weeks we've had graphic, downright gory photos on our front page of young accident victims.

Luckily, both of the bloodied persons pictured were not actually victims of an accident, but rather were area high school students participating in mock accidents to make teens aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, especially during prom season.

This is an exciting time of year for our area's high school students.

Graduation ceremonies and celebrations are on the horizon, but students now are focusing on the glitz and glitter that make up the annual prom season.

It's a time when students don formal attire and head off to area auditoriums and gymnasiums, hotel ballrooms and excursion boats for a night of friends and fun.

The annual event marks a time for making lifelong memories, but when alcohol and a lack of responsibility are combined with that special night, those memories can turn to tragedy quickly.

The prom should be a time of joy, and that's why it's important that parents talk with their teens about the consequences of drinking alcohol, 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 now, before proms are held.

Teens must be sure they know not to get into the car with any driver who has been drinking, and they must know they are responsible for their own actions. If teens truly want to prove what adults they have become, they must show they know how to prove they're worthy of the responsibility.

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 near a phone 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 home 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, let him (or her) know that they can call you at any time to come get them. 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. But being busy shouldn't keep parents from taking the time to talk with their teens about the facts of life in the adult world.

Good parents have probably said it all before, and more than once.

Saying it another time surely won't hurt. It may prevent those bloody front-page pictures from becoming reality.



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