The terms “safe” and “teen drinking” never go together. When you host a party and allow underage drinking, you can’t predict the behavior of the teens present. Even if you take away the keys, alcohol poisoning, fights, risky sexual behavior, assaults, and other harmful situations may occur. There are countless stories of tragedies every year that take place when young people are allowed to drink in what the adults feel is a “safe” environment.
In addition, you are sending the message to young people that underage drinking and breaking the law are okay. If it is okay to drink at their friend’s house with adults present, then why wouldn’t it be okay to drink elsewhere? And if it is okay to break this law because it’s “unreasonable,” then what other laws can be broken?
Providing alcohol to minors poses serious legal ramifications. Under the social host laws in Missouri, any adult can be held personally responsible and sued for anything that happens as a result of giving alcohol to minors or knowingly allowing minors to drink. It is illegal to purchase alcohol for a minor and adults who provide alcohol to minors could be charged up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine up to $500 PER MINOR
Stay involved throughout the planning of your teen’s prom. Use these tips to keep your teen safe:
Start by noting the excitement of prom and how you want your kid to have fun. Transition with something such as “Prom is also a time when there is a lot of pressure to do things like drink, smoke, do drugs, or go places that are unsafe. I want you to have a great time, but I want you to be safe and smart.” Have this conversation a few times before the busy prom-day schedule, but also give a reminder the day of the dance.
During your conversation, talk to your teen about what to do in various situations, such as someone bringing alcohol to the dance, their ride is driving dangerously (perhaps while drinking or texting). Make sure your teen knows that they can call you if they are in an unsafe situation.
Consider setting up a code word or phrase with your teen that cues you to pick them up so they don’t have to say “come get me, my ride is drinking.” Tell your teen you will be ready to answer that call and go get them, no questions asked. If your teen knows they will be attacked with questions when you get there, they are less likely to call you if they are unsafe. Instead, pick up your teen and make a commitment to discuss the events later when both of you are calm.
Set a clear curfew and establish times when your teen should call you to check in, perhaps when leaving the dance, arriving to the after prom, when heading home, etc.
Throughout your talk it’s important to give credit to your teen when possible. Make sure it is a conversation, not just you talking down to them or lecturing. Perhaps begin by saying, “I trust that you know these things already, but it’s important to me that we review them.”
Strive to find a balanced approach. Parents shouldn’t lecture or scare their teens with gloomy worst-case scenarios, but they also shouldn’t be too friendly with their teens by letting them call the shots on their prom night. Declare firm, clear guidelines in a caring way.
Drinking and driving is always unsafe and should be avoided at all costs. If you decide to hire a limousine company or other transportation service, here are some questions you can ask them to protect your kids:
Once the driver is hired, you should: