Help Your Teen Have a Safe Prom

Author: W. Coleman Allen, Jr., Richmond, VA Personal Injury Attorney

Prom is a right of passage. It is an institution in the modern teenager’s world. It is dramatized in movies and television. It is supposed to be the perfect night. But for some, Help Your Teen Have a Safe Prom Teen Dancingprom night is very different from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood interpretations.

Last prom season a high school senior was killed on his way home from a prom after party. [1] His friend was driving the car, crossed over the center line and collided with a truck.[2] The truck driver also died. The driver of the car was under the influence of drugs.[3] In another unrelated accident, a teen on his way to prom smashed into another car killing the driver and putting her 8 year old daughter in critical condition.[4] The teen was driving over the speed limit, and has been charged with vehicular manslaughter in the first, and careless and reckless driving.[5]

It’s time to get serious about prom.  What can you do?

Carleton Kendrick, a notable family therapist writing for Huffington Post, presents the Four Corners of Prom Safety.

  1. The Talk:[6]

    • Who will your teen be with?

    • Where will they be?

    • What time will they be home?

    • Have a frank and honest discussion about drugs, alcohol, sex, and peer pressure.

  1. The Drive:[7]

    • Good News: Young drivers are less likely than adults to drink after driving.[8]

    • Bad News: Young drivers are at a substantially higher crash risk when they do drink alcohol even in moderate or low concentrations.[9]

    • The Virginia DMV recommends double checking the alcohol policy of the limo company you have hired, and to make sure they are on the DMV registered list.[10]

  1. The Connection:[11]

    • Make sure your teen has a means to reach you at all times.

    • Be available.

    • Don’t be afraid to check in with them throughout the night.

    • Call the parents who are hosting the after parties.  You have a right to make sure your children are going to be safe.

  1. The Offer:

    • Kendrick recommends above all, “Give your children the unconditional option of calling you at any time for help or advice. That includes an offer to pick them up at any time of day or night, with a promise not to shame or humiliate them in front of others, nor to condemn or shame them once you get them in the car or back home. There will be ample time to calmly, lovingly discuss the night's events and the lessons learned. Assure them that you always welcome being part of their making smart and safe decisions.”[12]

Want to learn more?  Want to do more?  Click here to take the pledge to have a responsible prom.  Click here to see how some teens are taking action to make prom safer.  Having a safe and responsible prom doesn’t mean it won’t be fun.  


[1] See Diane Pathieu, Aaron Dunigan, 18, Killed After Prom in Car Crash, ABC 7 News, May 17, 2015, http://abc7chicago.com/news/18-year-old-killed-in-car-crash-after-prom-/727359/.

[2] See id.

[3] See id.

[4] See Teacher Dies in Crash with Pair on Way to Prom, USA Today, (Apr. 27, 2015), http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/27/teacher-dies-in-crash-with-pair-on-way-to-prom/26436687/.

[5] See Driver Arrested in Crash that Killed DeKalb Teacher, AJC, (Apr. 30, 2015), http://www.ajc.com/news/news/vigil-set-for-lakeside-teacher-killed-in-crash-fun/nk6SW/.

[6]  See Carleton Kendrick, Prom, Death and Sexual Assault: Help Make Safe, Smart Decisions—The Talk, The Drive, The Connection, The Offer, Huff. Post, (June 22, 2013, 5:12 AM), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carleton-kendrick/prom-death-and-sexual-assault_b_3115940.html.

[7] See id.

[8] Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, Teenagers: Driving Carries Extra Risks for Them, (2013), available at http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/teenagers/fatalityfacts/teenagers#cite-text-0-6.

[9] See id.

[10] Virginia DMV, Plan Ahead for Safety this Prom Season: DMV Urges Customers to Check out Limo Services Before Hiring, (Mar. 25, 2015), http://www.dmv.state.va.us/general/news/pressReleases/#/News_Article:9460.

[11] See supra note 6.

[12] Supra note 6.

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