As the parent of teenage children as well as an experienced Philadelphia catastrophic injury lawyer, prom season can be a fun but worrisome time. With the upcoming prom season, I am not only concerned about the safety of my own child on prom night, but every other teenager that attends a prom. It is comforting to know that a recent statistic shows that 65% of 12th graders disapprove of consuming 5 or more alcoholic drinks once or twice on a weekend. However, it is the other 35% I am really worried about.
Statistically, teen alcohol related auto accident deaths rise dramatically during prom and graduation season. Every year we hear on the news or read in the paper that a prom night ended in a catastrophic injury or death. In addition, a survey performed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed that 39% of high school senior males felt it was acceptable to force sex on a girl who is intoxicated or high on drugs. Those date rapes can leave innocent teenage girls with horrific physical and emotional scars.
As parents, our job is to make sure our children have a very memorable and safe prom night and are also free from injury the following morning to talk about it. Here are some things you would want to know or do before your child leaves for a prom:
- How are they getting there? Who is driving?
- If they are driving themselves, keep a list of all the names and phone numbers of the passengers, including their parent's names, addresses and phone numbers.
- Limit the number of passengers to limit distractions.
- Have your child wear a pair of shoes they are comfortable driving in and then have them change into heels or dress shoes once they arrive at the prom.
- Reinforce the importance of wearing a seat belt even if they are in an expensive gown or tux. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 70% of teens that are killed on prom weekends were not wearing seat belts.
- Are they renting a limo, bus or 15-passenger van to take them to the prom? If so, make sure the company is reputable with a safe driving record.
- Get a complete itinerary of the nights activities. If they will be attending an after-party, get the name, address and telephone number of where they are going.
- Speak to the parents that will be holding an after-party. Some parents may allow underage drinking as long as they are in the home. You would want to know if any alcohol will be provided.
- Set up certain check-in times for them to contact you.
- Have a heart to heart talk with your child in the weeks leading up to the prom. Talk about how your child would handle difficult situations that may arise such as a drunk driver or pressure to do drugs or have sex.
- Make sure your child has their cell phone and money for a cab just in case they would need it for any reason.
- Make yourself available if your child should need you to come and pick them up.
- Have a responsible adult stay awake until your child returns home safely.
Sadly, no matter how much we prepare our children to have a fun and safe prom night, accidents unfortunately happen either due to poor judgment, irresponsible behavior and the negligence of others. Our experienced Philadelphia catastrophic injury and wrongful death lawyers at The Beasley Firm have assisted numerous parents, teens and families whose lives have been forever changed due to a prom night accident. We have held businesses, limo drivers, 15-passenger van drivers, bus drivers, car manufacturers, intoxicated drivers, rapists, and social hosts that supplied alcohol to teens responsible for their negligent actions. If your child was physically or emotionally injured please feel free to call us at (215) 866-2424 for a confidential, no charge, and risk free consultation. I sincerely hope that your child has a very memorable and safe prom night.