Spring has sprung in Addison County! The newfound warmth brings thoughts of blooming flowers, migrating birds, and for high school upperclassmen, prom. Although we have seen many celebrations canceled over the last twelve months, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be shining at the close of this school year. An evening of long dresses, tuxes, boutonnieres, corsages, and dancing the night away surrounded by friends that have spent up to twelve years of their lives together seems like the perfect way to wrap up Junior and Senior year.
Many students look forward to the traditional prom activities, like getting ready with friends, limo rides, and after-parties. While these parties seem like standard practice, they can be incredibly dangerous. As of 2017, The American Automobile Association (AAA) reported that 31% of teens 16-19 reported that they would use drugs or alcohol during prom/graduation season. In 2019, 22% of Addison County teens reported that they drove a car under the influence, and 39% said that they had been a passenger while the driver was under the influence (YRBS). These statistics don’t improve during prom season, in fact, they get worse. Fortunately, there are many things that can be done to ensure a healthy and safe prom experience for all Addison County teens.
1. Talk with your friends about what the plan is for the evening. Make sure you’re all on the same page as far as arrival and departure from the event itself.
2. Have a backup plan. If your ride doesn’t work out, or you feel like you’re going to be in an unsafe situation, make sure that you have a way to get home safely.
3. Keep yourself focused on the roads at all times if driving. Crash rates are significantly higher for those 16-19 than 20 and older, so make sure that you are paying close attention to your surroundings, and focusing on driving, rather than friends that may be in the car.
4. Have fun! Prom is supposed to be a way to see your friends one last time before graduation. Make the most of it, and don’t feel like you need to give in to the pressures of a stereotypical prom experience. This is your night to get gussied up and celebrate, so don’t let yourself become a prom-night statistic.
This year has taken a lot from everyone, but prom is still a very real possibility.
We want to make sure that the first big event in months, and the senior's “last hoorah”, is as safe as possible. Being able to gather with friends to celebrate almost seems foreign, but prom is our opportunity to do just that. So dance hard, sing loudly, and have a healthy and fun Prom 2021.
Olivia Brooks is a Youth Prevention Coordinator for United Way of Addison County.