Prom & Graduation

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Play it safe on prom night

Prom is a memorable and enjoyable event for high school students. A chance for teenagers to insert some glamour into their lives, prom also provides an opportunity to make lasting memories with friends before high school ends and college begins.

While prom should be fun, that revelry should not come at the expense of safety. Prom night is most enjoyable when it is safe and memorable for all the right reasons, and teens and parents can take the following steps to ensure prom night goes safely.

• Attend prom with trusted friends. Plan to arrive to and depart from the party together. Each friend should do their best to look out for each member of their group's well-being.

• Establish an itinerary. Teens should work with their friends to plan an itinerary for prom night and share that itinerary with parents and guardians who will want to know where their kids will be before, during and after the prom. In addition to establishing an itinerary, accept curfews established by parents and make sure mobile phones are turned on to accept calls from parents who may need reassurance. Choose activities that do not involve drinking or irresponsible behavior. Once prom has ended, enjoy a movie together as a group or play a round of mini golf. Or go for a late night meal at a nearby diner.

• Choose wardrobe wisely. Long gowns and high heels can increase the risk of falls. Keep fashion a priority but also maximize comfort and safety. Be sure you can walk around comfortably in your shoes and that your gown does not make it difficult to walk up and down staircases.

• Do not carry large sums of money with you to prom. It's best to avoid taking a lot of cash to prom, as young ladies can't keep watchful eyes on their handbags as they cut a rug, and young men might leave their wallets in their unattended sports coats.

• Do not take offerings of drinks from unsealed containers, even if they look innocuous. Teens should be wary of accepting drinks offered in unsealed containers, especially if those drinks are offered by strangers. If a drink tastes funny, stop drinking it and report it to a faculty member or chaperone.

• Don't feel pressured to drink alcohol or do drugs. The majority of promgoers want to have clean fun as they listen and dance to music and share laughs with their friends, so students should not feel pressured to engage in risky behavior involving drugs and alcohol. If someone is pressuring you and/or your friends, walk away and encourage your friends to do the same.

• Be aware of your surroundings at night, especially when you leave the prom. Ask the limousine driver to pick you up in a well-lit area of the parking lot so you are not vulnerable to people with ill intentions.

• Do not feel pressured to engage in sexual behavior. Teens should never feel pressured to engage in sexual behavior. Such pressure might be especially prevalent on prom night, but students should not feel obligated to engage in any behavior they prefer to avoid. If pressure arises, call a parent to come pick you up immediately.

• Ensure that after-prom parties will be adult-supervised and are in a safe location. Parents should chaperone any after parties to prevent teens from engaging in risky, unsafe behavior.

• Take host laws seriously. Parents hosting an after-party must keep in mind that they may be responsible for the actions of their guests. Teens should never be served alcohol, so keep careful tabs on party activities and have zero-tolerance for alcohol or poor behavior.

Prom night can be a great experience for teens. By playing it smart and safe, teens can enjoy a night they will remember for years to come.

Maryland Pennysaver