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Ideas for Alcohol- and Drug-Free Post Prom & Graduation Parties

June 21st, 2016

graduation 1This time of year is filled with celebrations for high school teens including prom and graduation parties. Many teens and their parents assume that alcohol will be consumed at these celebrations even though high school students are obviously not legally old enough to drink.

Peer Pressure

Teens may see drinking at these events as a rite of passage. They worry that if they do not go to these types of parties and drink, they will be missing out or considered unpopular. Patrick Stepp, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) National Student of the Year, says, “The number one reason high school kids drink alcohol is social peer pressure. There were kids in my high school that thought drinking was cool and would make them part of the ‘popular’ group.”

Penny Wells, CEO of SADD reiterates that parents may also be victims of peer-pressure assuming that other parents are giving their kids permission to drink and not wanting to be the only ones to say no. Parents also may have their own feelings of nostalgia toward prom and graduation, remembering that they drank at these events—and feel hypocritical if they enforce no drinking policies. Wells says, “Many parents just cross their fingers and hope that their kids will not consume too much alcohol or be involved in any destructive behavior.”

Parents’ Role

Parents may try to enforce more lenient rules, such as collecting car keys at the beginning of a party to avoid drinking and driving. But as Wells points out, “Adults may think if they just take kids’ keys at the door and stop them from driving, they are keeping them safe. But teen drunk driving is not the only problem—drinking can lead to other destructive behavior including accidents like falling down the stairs, fighting, sexual assault, etc.”

There are teens like Stepp that believe they can have a good time and celebrate without alcohol. Cat Felle, a high school senior and member of the SADD National Student Leadership Council, adds, “My older brother was a heavy drinker and smoker in high school. I see where he is now. I’m learning from his mistakes, so I do not drink alcohol. I surround myself with positive teens who enjoy themselves sober and drug-free.”

Alcohol-Free Alternatives

Throughout the country there are school officials, parents and teens working together to provide alcohol-free alternative activities for teens that want to celebrate, have fun and stay sober. “Project Graduation” is one initiative. The name was coined twenty years ago by planners in Maine that wanted to offer alcohol-free after prom celebrations after eighteen people died during two graduation seasons due to alcohol-related crashes. Since then, “Project Graduation” has become a generic name for substance-free graduation and prom celebrations. SADD has guidelines on it’s website for parents who want to plan their own alcohol and substance-free after prom parties. Think About It is another teen campaign between SADD and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advocating no drinking during prom and graduation season.

At Stepp’s high school the prom committee planned activities for after prom that did not include alcohol. Stepp says, “My junior and senior year, the committee rented out a bowling alley and everyone bowled for 2 hours. The committee also collected ‘give-away prizes’ so almost everyone who showed up and stayed the entire night got something. We all got sweat shirts and free food, so that enticed us to go to the event instead of doing our own thing.”

Other suggestions include trips to a beach or park with parental supervision. All night lock downs in the school with games and prizes or community service events are also great post-prom and graduation celebration ideas for teens. Parents or other adult chaperones need to outline the rules in advance and enforce the no drinking policy.

Wells says, “These occasions are about being with your friends. Years later many teens wish they had hung out sober and really created memories on these occasions instead of just getting drunk.”

Article originally appeared in teenlife.com by Randi Mazzella.

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