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You might have heard of a Prom Promise before. If you haven’t, you might think that it’s a promise teens make not to have sex on prom night. While some schools teach abstinence rather than offering comprehensive sexual education classes, that’s not what this term means.
In this article, we’ll explain what a Prom Promise’s true meaning is, and we’ll also talk about whether it’s a good idea. This is not something that all high schools do, but it’s possible that the concept may spread before much more time elapses.
What Exactly is a Prom Promise?
Jackson County, Alabama, is where first responders came up with the Prom Promise idea. The somewhat provocative title is certainly something that might get your attention.
A Prom Promise means that the students who attend and watch a demonstration will promise not to consume alcohol when they go to their senior prom. The demonstration is a fake car wreck. The police and fire department set it up and act as themselves, while the teens in this little play are local high school drama students.
Since the students have an acting background, and the actual police and fire departments involve themselves as well, the whole performance has an added gravity that’s hard to ignore. Even the most jaded student will find it difficult to shrug off what they see. The depiction shows how teen alcohol use can cause DUIs, injuries, and deaths.
Why Do This Sort of Thing?
If you’re wondering why the police, fire department, and high school kids would bother with this whole production, there are some stats that should explain it. Nationally, there are approximately 10.8 million underage US drinkers. Of this group, about 4,700 die every year.
There are also some juvenile DUI statistics that parents, teachers, police, and fire department officials also find troubling. 1 in 5 high school students say that someone who has been drinking has driven them somewhere at some point. More often than not, it’s a friend or fellow student.
On top of that, 8.2% of teens report that they have driven drunk themselves, either one time or more. That statistic has remained steady over the years.
Why Do Teens Experiment with Alcohol?
It’s not very difficult to see why teens would want to experiment with alcohol, not to mention other drugs. They are young, and they often feel as though they are invincible. This is no accident.
The teen brain is an unfinished product. The brain does not actually finish growing until the mid-20s. Until then, a young adult might struggle with impulse control.
That’s why some parents, teachers, and other authority figures might find it difficult to contain or control a teen who wants to rebel and challenge anything an adult says. Teens and adults in their early 20s want to test the boundaries. They want to see what they can get away with, and in a sense, that’s natural and healthy.
What Other Reasons Exist that Explain Teen Drinking?
You also have to factor in peer pressure. Peer pressure can be what makes an otherwise responsible and respectful teen vandalize something, try alcohol, smoke a joint for the first time, etc. If they want to appear cool in front of their friends, they might do something that their parents would think is completely out of character.
One solution is to always keep an eye on your teen, but realistically, what parent can do that? Unless you have a parent or guardian who essentially locks their young charge in their room each day after school and on the weekends, situations are going to arise where the young person is with their friends. The chance to misbehave will almost certainly come up.
Is a Prom Promise the Answer?
As for whether a Prom Promise not to drink at prom or to get in the car with a drunk driver can reduce or stop teen alcohol use and car wrecks, that’s anyone’s guess. Behaviorists seem to think, though, that it can’t hurt.
If a teen sees a very realistic performance that shows a car wreck following a night of drinking at prom, it can hardly be a bad thing. Maybe it won’t have an impact on every single teen who sees it, but if it drives this essential point home with at least some of them, it will not be in vain.
Talking to Teens About Drinking and Drugs Helps
Studies over the years do seem to indicate that if parents, teachers, and other authority figures talk to teenagers about drug and alcohol use, those teens are less likely to use them. The key is how these authority figures present the subject matter.
The “Just Say No” slogan of the DARE program during the 1980s might have been an oversimplification. It seemed to indicate that drugs and alcohol were the devil and made a blanket statement that no kids should ever try them, or they would face dire consequences.
That sort of fear-mongering is probably not the best way to go about these conversations. It’s better if parents, teachers, and other adults talk to kids rationally and frankly.
They don’t need to try to frighten the teens into behaving. If they talk about how alcohol and drug use can negatively impact someone’s life without giving the facts any further context, their good intentions might not be enough to stop those teens who are curious about such substances.
The best drug and alcohol conversations to have with young people are those that stress why these substances are best left for older individuals to use. These talks should include how alcoholism can ruin someone’s life if they are not careful. They might include how too much recreational marijuana can rob someone of their motivation at any age.
The Prom Promise might not eliminate every teen drunk driving incident, but it’s probably a worthwhile pursuit. That’s why it shouldn’t surprise you if this concept catches on elsewhere as well.