Commentary: In Prom Season, Safety First

Commentary: In Prom Season, Safety First

Fellow Parents and Friends:

The spring season is now in full swing and along with the warmer (and longer) days, cherry blossoms, and outdoor grilling comes another type of season: prom season. While we are all proud of our children for their accomplishments, especially those with graduation on the horizon, we must remember that safety is still the number one priority. Many of us will be hosting prom parties and events for our kids, and even though we want to make them as enjoyable and memorable as possible, the fact remains: providing alcohol to a minor is against the law.

Providing alcohol to a minor can cause them physical and mental harm. The brain is still growing until the age of 25 and underage drinking is proven to have harmful effects on the brain. Students who wait until their early 20s to drink are 84 percent less likely to develop an addiction than those who start earlier.

Hosting a prom party with alcohol, or providing alcohol to a minor in any way, is a risk you cannot afford to take. One bad decision can result in tragedy for the young person, as well as his or her family, friends, and our entire community. Do not risk living with the burden of an unnecessary death or accident because you provided or allowed alcohol use by someone under the age of 21.

Things you can do as a parent include calling other parents to ensure social events are alcohol-free and chaperoned, as well as locking up your own alcoholic beverages. Make it clear to your teen that you do not approve of their drinking alcohol, and ensure your teen has a plan for the night and that you know what it is. Do not rent hotel rooms for prom-goers, and have a transportation plan; if it’s a limo, check their company policy on not allowing any alcohol in the vehicle and on driving any teen who clearly has been drinking. Report underage drinking to police: 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

Spring is a time for safe enjoyment and celebration. Together, we can make prom season a safe, fun, and memorable event for everyone.

Supervisor John C. Cook

Chair, Public Safety Committee of Board of Supervisors

Col. Edwin C. Rossler, Jr.

Chief of Police, Fairfax County

Patricia Hynes

Chair, Fairfax County School Board

Karen K. Garza, Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools