Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Few Words Go a Long Way: Keeping Your Teens Alcohol-Free This Prom & Grad Season

by Joy Spencer

Prom and graduation are two of the biggest memory-making events in a teenager’s life. These days, it’s not just the students who get excited about the planning and celebrating. Many parents take part in every aspect, from picking out the fabulous attire to extending curfew on these special evenings. It’s also a time when parents should ask themselves, “What can I do to make sure my teen stays safe and makes smart decisions?” These are good questions, considering that for some teens, these events bring increased pressure to break the rules, like drinking alcohol.

The good news is that parents should not feel helpless. In fact, they should feel encouraged. When it comes to underage drinking, studies show that parents have a lot more power over the decisions their teens make than they may realize. According to the Roper Youth Report, 74% of teens ages 13 to 17 say their parents are the number one influence on their decisions about whether they drink alcohol, and that finding has been consistent since this survey began more than a decade ago.

“We know it’s not always easy to talk with teens, but parents are actually very effective when it comes to helping their kids make good decisions, like not drinking alcohol or giving in to negative peer pressure,” says Rudy Williams, OLCC Deputy Director. “Parents can be very influential by keeping the lines of communication open, setting firm rules – and sticking to them, and teaching their kids how to make responsible choices.”

The OLCC offers these additional tips for parents for prom and graduation celebrations:

  • Set clear rules about not drinking and consequences for breaking them.

  • If you are hosting a graduation or prom after party, do not serve alcohol to anyone under age 21. Read about Oregon’s alcohol laws and minors.

  • Take inventory of the alcohol in your home and secure it if needed.

  • Find out who is driving. One-third of the alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving teens each year occur during prom/graduation season (NHTSA). And if a limo is rented, check their policy on allowing alcohol in the vehicle.

  • Remind your teens to ALWAYS wear their seatbelts – it’s the law. 70% of teens killed on prom weekends were not wearing their seatbelts (NHTSA).

  • Discuss the school's prom rules with your teen and the consequences for violating them.

  • Don’t rent hotel rooms for your teens or allow them to attend parties that do not have chaperones.

  • Talk to other parents about post-event activities to ensure alcohol won’t be present.

  • Be available to provide a timely and safe ride home if needed. Let them know that they should call you if they need a ride home or get into a situation they know isn’t safe — no matter what time it is, no matter where they are.

  • The OLCC congratulates students and parents on keeping prom and graduation celebrations safe and healthy. Enjoy every minute of the season and help your teens create positive memories that will last a lifetime.


    1. Unfortunately, kids these days are not only faced with decisions around alcohol use, but many other social drugs. As well as dealing with sexually driven behavior fueled by alcohol consumption. It's time families and the community started having broader conversations educating youth about how to make good decisions when faced with all of these factors. If your not having difficult conversations your not properly educating youth for their own safety.

    2. I sure am glad the the OLCC is around to tell people how to raise their children. Not to mention the support of the wide gap between age of majority and the legal drinking age.

      I'm an adult, I work full time and I pay the taxes that support the OLCC.
      I'm also under 21. Eight months away, to be exact.

      However, I am not some young whippersnapper just looking to drive drunk at the drop of a hat.

      Stop the nonsense.

      Does the OLCC stop me from consuming alcohol? No, not at all. I'm surely satisfied with the bang-up job that you've been doing.

      I'm not going to let anyone tell me what I can and cannot consume.

      Stop the regime over businesses, and more importantly stop treating those of us that are capable of making responsible decisions like mere children.

      When I have children (my wife and I have decided to wait until we're ready...oh look, more responsibility) I will be introducing alcohol to them as early as possible.

      I thought we all had figured out that prohibition (in any form) doesn't work. The 1920's ring a bell? Why in the world would it work now?

    3. On a lighter note, those kids in the photo seem cool. Sunglasses and all that.

    4. Dear Anonymous,
      you have along way to go to grow up though! I am the mother of two teenagers and I appreciate Oregon Law even though it doesn't stop teenagers from drinking.
      Your comment about introducing your kids to alcohol as early as possible is just plain crazy. It is quite obvious that you are not a parent. You may hold a job,pay taxes and are responsible,but your comments make you look very immature.

    5. I guess this is one major event in the life of a student- attending a prom night with your partner and it is normal that there would always be someone in their group to tease them over alcohol and other stuffs. Parents should be well versed in the topic to communicate it easily and effectively to their children. It’s a good thing that OLCC is able to put up some guidelines for the parents.