It's prom and graduation season - a time for celebration. Unfortunately, it's also the most dangerous time for teens. One-third of the alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving teens each year occur in the months of April, May and June.
SATUCI Youth Partners, a coalition of organizations focused on youth, recommends an open and honest conversation between parents and teens about the dangers of drinking alcohol. This conversation ensures prom and graduation activities create happy memories, according to Vickie Lewis, director of professional services at SATUCI.
"For many parents, this has been an ongoing conversation as their child gets older. Other parents miss the opportunity to address alcohol and drug related issues," she said.
Lewis said that experts say the number one deterrent to underage drinking is having parents who talk to their teens about the dangers of alcohol.
"Teens say the reason they don't drink alcohol is they don't want to lose their parent's respect. That shows how important parents are in their child's life," Lewis said.
SATUCI Youth Partners have these tips for parents who want to help their child have a safe celebration.
Know who your child is attending the prom with and discuss the events for pre and post prom parties with the other parents. If your child's plans change, confirm the change with the other parents.
Know who is driving to the prom and who will be a passenger. Limit the number of passengers to increase safety and reduce driver distractions. Know the location of post prom parties and who is sponsoring them.
Discuss guidelines and a curfew. Make sure everyone understands that under no circumstances should anyone get into a vehicle when the driver has been drinking alcohol.
Talk about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking and driving. Send clear messages that you do not want your teen to drink alcohol and why you have that value.
Practice and discuss answers to help your child get out of uncomfortable situations
Tell your child that Intoxication by alcohol or drugs can lead to poor judgment and dangerous situations.
Lewis said parents and teens can make a pledge for prom and graduation times.
"Parents can promise to get their teen at anytime and anywhere with no questions asked. Their child can promise to call them for a ride home rather than get in the car with a drinking driver."
Lewis also reminds parents and adults about Marshalltown's Social Host ordinance that prohibits them from hosting underage drinking parties.
For more tips on hosting parties, go to www.youthpartnersmarshalltown.org and click on Community Initiatives and then Parents Who Host.