High school proms are fast approaching and it’s important to talk to your teens about where they’ll be after the dance is over. Knowing where they are, who they’re with and who’s supervising them are all important factors for keeping them safe on prom night.
Last week I spoke with Ray Horner at WAKR about keeping the lines of communication open about prom plans.
Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion, which originally aired on 1590 WAKR-AM on April 30.
HORNER: We’re going to bring in Heather Trnka right now from Akron Children’s Hospital.
We’re coming upon the season of prom night. With prom night (comes) a lot of excitement and fun for the kids and their families. But, unfortunately there are also some safety concerns when we talk about prom night.
We brought Heather on to the show because she wanted to get some information out to us parents before the heavy prom season hits so that we can incorporate some of these items inside our family home.
Heather, why don’t we go right down that road right away with that prom safety information?
TRNKA: That sounds great.
HORNER: Where would you like to start?
TRNKA: What we want to talk about first is the relationship between parent and child. No matter how strong the relationship, sometimes parents are unaware of the choices that teens face every day – especially during prom season.
We want to encourage parents to talk to their teens about their prom plans. Where are they going to be? What time are they leaving the prom? What types of parties are they going to afterwards? Are they going to the school-sponsored after prom or are they going to a private party?
HORNER: I remember going through these times during prom season with Elizabeth and telling her that any time she was in an uncomfortable situation to give me a call.
Is that part of the message you want to get out is to try to have that relationship where they can call if they’re in bad situations?
TRNKA: Yes. Absolutely. We want to give our teens the unconditional option of calling home at any time for help or advice. It could also be a text message of “what should I do” or “come get me.” We want that to be an option all the time, not just during prom.
This includes picking them up without any questions. There is a little caveat to that – not any questions until the morning when friends aren’t around.
We obviously have the right to question our children and know what was going on, but we want to make sure that they know that they can call us at any time to come and get them if they’re uncomfortable or if something’s going on that shouldn’t be going on.
HORNER: Most proms at most schools have an itinerary and schedule put together. It’s probably not a bad idea to have.
TRNKA: We really encourage the after prom instead of private parties. Many schools offer this fun, safe alternative to private parties that has tons of different activities and prizes. The most important part is that it’s locked in so we have that added piece of safety.
We don’t ever encourage parents to allow their teen to go to hotel parties for many reasons besides drinking and driving.
HORNER: With us this morning is Heather Trnka from Akron Children’s Hospital.
Some (teens) don’t like the after prom, but maybe they’ll go to a friend’s house. It’s probably important to get that phone number and even talk to the person who’s hosting that get together with the kids.
TRNKA: Right. Some parents do allow underage drinking so we want to make sure we speak directly with any parents who are supervising after parties that your teen wants to attend.
Just a friendly reminder to parents – it’s illegal for adults to serve alcohol or knowingly allow anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol – even in their own home.
Here in the state of Ohio they can be fined and prosecuted for doing so.
HORNER: Let’s talk about prom season and the reason you’re on the air with us this morning Heather (I’ll let you expand a little bit).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says teens unfortunately risk death and alcohol related issues, but during prom season we see a lot more accidents, a lot of pull overs and a lot of problems.
TRNKA: Right. What we see too is an increase in other injuries as well like alcohol and drug overdoses. A lot of times this is (a teen’s) first avenue to get drugs and alcohol and it’s an excuse for it as far as prom goes.
We really want teens to be safe, make really good decisions and think about tomorrow not just today. If I’m drinking and driving who does that affect? It’s so much more than just me – it’s all of those around us as well.
HORNER: Heather, do you have a checklist that maybe some of my listeners can go to on your website and maybe look at some of the items we’ve brought up this morning?
TRNKA: Absolutely. Check out akronchildrens.org. We’ve got plenty of information out there for parents.
HORNER: Again, it’s akronchildren.org.
Heather, thanks for coming on with us again. Always appreciate your time.
TRNKA: Thanks Ray. Have a great day.
Horner: You too. Heather Trnka from Akron Children’s Hospital with us.