Media Contact: Keith.O’Connor@baystatehealth.org, 413-794-7656
SPRINGFIELD – It’s prom season – every student’s dream and many a parent’s nightmare.
“It’s no secret that traffic deaths increase among teens each year during prom weekend, most the result of alcohol or drug abuse, which can also lead to date rape,” said Dr. Ronald Gross, chief, Trauma, Acute Care Surgery, Baystate Medical Center.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
“With a little guidance from their most important role models – parents – kids can be helped to set the stage for a safe and memorable prom, or as I prefer to call them, ‘trauma free,’” said Dr. Gross
The Baystate Medical Center trauma chief suggested setting time aside to talk with your teen prom-goer in advance of prom night.
“Let your children know what you expect of them, so that they don’t ruin a good night for their date, themselves, and others around them. Tell them not to be afraid to call you if they need help or advice, or even to be picked up unexpectedly on prom night,” said Dr. Gross.
Among the information you should ask your son or daughter for during “the talk” include:
• Their complete itinerary for the night
• Who they will be with
• What they intend to do after the prom
• Phone numbers where you can contact them.
“Tell them it’s no secret that you know some teens on prom night feel pressured by their friends to drink, smoke, use drugs, or have sex. And that it is perfectly okay for them to say no,” said Dr. Gross.
According to Dr. Gross, most teens will tell you they know it all – about sex and drinking and driving. But, do they know that statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cite teen drivers ages 16 to 19 as being four times more likely than older drivers to crash?
“Don’t assume that they really do have all the facts. It doesn’t hurt to remind your child not to drink and drive, to always wear a safety belt, and to not get into a car with a driver who has been drinking,” said Dr. Gross.
The Baystate trauma surgeon urges parents to explain to their children how drinking is responsible for over 4,500 deaths among young people each year, and that alcohol and drugs impair judgment, especially when it comes to sex, which could result in further problems, such as STDs and unintended pregnancy.
Other options to teens driving themselves to the prom?
“Many teens today share the cost of a limo and leave the driving to a professional,” said Dr. Gross.
Additional tips for prom-goers from Dr. Gross and the CDC include:
• Make an agreement with friends to keep check on each other during the evening. Be sure someone you trust is available for you to call if your plans change or you need help.
• Dating abuse can be a real issue anytime, even on prom night. The abuse can be verbal, emotional, physical or sexual. Respect yourself and tell family or call 911 if you or someone you know is being abused.
• If you plan to go to an after-prom party, be sure it is adult-supervised and has an observed start and end time. Go with a “buddy” to ensure each other’s safety.
As the only Level 1 Trauma Center in western Massachusetts, Baystate Medical Center treats the region’s most critically injured patients.
For more information on Baystate Medical Center, visit baystatehealth.org/bmc.