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Sunday Mornings with Rania: Prom Safety

I couldn’t help but feel moved. Shelley Taylor Ludwick, Media and Event Manager at TOOTSIES, made sure everything was perfect. Thamer Kay Favor, Designer Merchandise Assistant at TOOTSIES and former Miss USA, was carefully and thoughtfully pulling fashionable, age-appropriate prom dresses for the attendees to try. Donae Chramosta, The Vintage Contessa, walked in looking like an honest-to-God belle of the ball as did former KPRC Anchor, Courtney Zavala. They took time to speak of social media savviness and true prom stories featured in the news respectively.

All these women coming together. All of these women giving of their time – and all of them doing so with only one thought in mind: keeping our daughters fabulous yet safe during prom weekend. It was really beautiful.

We call it our Prep for Prom Event and it’s free at Tootsies annually. The goal of the “shop and learn” is to bring in wonderfully connected Houston women, women who are savvy, smart, accomplished, fashionable and more to share true stories about prom (some funny, some difficult) with the hope of encouraging this year’s prom attendees to have an amazing but safe evening.

And we keep it real. No topics are off the table. When the teens’ expressions turn from mere attendance into “listening and learning,” you know you’re doing something important. Peppered into the discussion are recent changes in the law that apply to teens. So many parents think prom and problems associated with prom are rare and certainly not something they need to think of. We feel that parents and teens everywhere need to make prom safety a priority.

Here’s what we know: 

  • Girls feel that prom is the second-most-significant event in a teenager’s life, after getting a driver’s license.
  • Drinking, drugs, sexual activity and car accidents each play a significant role in prom weekend. Do you understand the risks?
  • As much as we think teens get it, the fact is 87 percent of teens believe their peers are more likely to drive impaired instead of calling a parent or guardian for help because they are still afraid of getting in trouble.

According to the CDC, during the 2015 prom season, teens indicated that: 

  • 63 percent had at least one drink of alcohol
  • 44 percent used marijuana at least once
  • 32 percent rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol
  • 10 percent drove under the influence
  • 47 percent had sexual intercourse
  • 10 percent were forced to have sexual intercourse

Of the 31 percent who were already sexually active:

  • 44 percent did not use condoms
  • 90 percent did not use birth control pills
  • 25 percent consumed alcohol before their last sexual intercourse

Did you and your teens know: It is against the law to make alcohol available to anyone under 21, even with their parents’ permission.

So, while there is so much to think about when it comes to prom fashion, having a beautiful, fun experience, staying safe on social media and in person, we hope you’ll discuss the following, at a minimum:

  • Teens, discuss your prom plans with your date ahead of time. Make sure you know what your strategy will be to handle every and any issue before you step foot out the door for prom.
  • Parents, get involved in the planning of the evening. There’s a lot to discuss, from expectations to curfews, driving, drinking, cell phone use, and more. Talk it through, more than once, and make sure your teen understands the risks.

For those parents who are dealing with the question of sending teens to a rented home in Galveston or a local hotel room for prom weekend, we ask you to remember the following:

Minors, i.e. those under 18 years of age, cannot enter into any type of contract, including renting a house or hotel room. This means parents who rent the space are on the legal hook for everything that happens during the stay. The liabilities are endless and can vastly range from negligence claims to property damage suits. Remember, under any and all circumstances, alcohol cannot be given to those under 21 – even if in a home you rented, even if no driving will be done, even if kids and parents sign pledges of safety. It’s the law and you can’t create exceptions around it.

At the end of the day, while most teens will lay the pressure on to “get away” for prom weekend, the reality is it usually is not the best idea and parents are cautioned against it.

Let’s help these teens have the best prom weekend, filled with fun and learn more about prom safety here.

Posted by Rania Mankarious on 20 Mar 2016

About the author

Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston