HAPPY BUT SAFE AT THE PROM; Parents Should Talk to Teens about Risks, Rules

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 4, 2003 | Go to article overview

HAPPY BUT SAFE AT THE PROM; Parents Should Talk to Teens about Risks, Rules


Byline: Alexandra Rockey Fleming, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The prom means a lot to Clifton teen Stephanie Wyant. It means a long dress with spaghetti straps, a romantic evening with a handsome escort, dinner at a fancy restaurant. Prom night is "dancing and hanging out with friends and stuff," says the 17-year-old, a senior at Fairfax High School. "It's probably the biggest thing, in terms of high-school events, that I've done so far."

The prom, a multimillion-dollar industry, maintains a tremendous amount of cultural weight among teenagers, says Amy Best, author of "Prom Night: Youth, Schools and Popular Culture." In a spring 2003 study of 2,000 youngsters ages 12 to 19, 76 percent labeled the prom as an "in" event, says Michael Wood, vice president of the market-research firm Teenage Research Unlimited.

Indeed, the evening's very significance in the minds and hearts of teens creates a backdrop against which they may find themselves vulnerable or more likely to engage in risky behavior than on ordinary Saturday nights, many educators and social scientists say.

Stephanie says she knows what she should be doing on prom night - "having fun" - and drugs, drinking and sex don't fit into the plans.

"My parents don't worry about that with me because they know that I'm not going to go out and do things that are wrong," she says. "I'm not going to go over to someone's house and do 'bad stuff.' ... Some people will, but that's their choice."

Many teens do seem to make the choice, around prom time, to take a bite of forbidden fruit. Therefore, prom is one of the most important times of the year for the administrators and members of Students Against Destructive Decisions, or SADD, a peer-driven education and advocacy organization, says Penny Wells, executive director.

"We try to emphasize that, yes, prom and graduation are very special times in kids' lives, and the night to remember can be a really positive thing," she says. "It's natural and common to have times of passage and celebration, to do something extra-special for those occasions. ... It can also be a disaster. We want to prevent that night from being a disaster."

The risk of teens drinking is higher around prom and graduation than any other time of the year, Ms. Wells says.

"Sometimes kids who usually don't drink will make an exception for prom - it's that big," she says. "Why? I think there's a mythology built up around prom. The larger one is that you have to be drunk or high in order to have a good time.

"That's a powerful message that our young people receive from adults and the entertainment media. And the night of the year when kids most want to have fun is prom - there's a lot more peer pressure around that time."

Parents can add to the problem because some believe drinking is inevitable on prom night, Ms. Wells says.

"Parents just feel they have to cross their fingers and their kids will get through the night safely," she says.

Alcohol consumption can foreshadow risky sexual behavior, including date rape and sexual assault, child advocates say. Such opportunities often are aided by unheralded prom-night freedoms such as rented hotel rooms and an expanded curfew.

"Date rape is something I'd be concerned about," says Ms. Best, the "Prom Night" author and a sociology professor at San Jose State University. "Because proms are more traditional in terms of gender, they are more likely to create a scenario where young women will feel they don't have a voice, and the ante is upped for men, so the expectations among their peers that they score on prom night can cloud reason."

Many schools even mandate that students cannot attend the event without a date, Ms. Wells says, so "people may be in unfamiliar situations with people they don't know and trust."

Prom is over; now what?

Herndon High School senior Sarah Urban says peer pressure won't squeeze poor behavior out of her on prom night. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

HAPPY BUT SAFE AT THE PROM; Parents Should Talk to Teens about Risks, Rules
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.