Prom is a big deal to the teenagers counting down and the adults who care about them. ‘Tis the season for creative “promposals”, last minute dress alterations, and parental freak-out moments. It’s such a memorable time. Make it a safe time by addressing potential pitfalls, initiating certain conversations, and taking some preventative measures.

Potential Pitfalls: Alcohol, Sex, and the Combination of the Two

It’s sad to think that prom nights have become notorious for binge drinking, drunk driving accidents, and unwanted sexual encounters, but these tragedies are a reality. Knowing ahead of time that these situations are a strong possibility allows teenagers to make a plan of action or seek advice. It’s like the difference between walking blindly down a dark path and falling into a hole and walking down a dark path knowing there’s a hole somewhere. Awareness can lead to cautious behavior, unless it doesn’t…

Conversations To Have

Teenagers shouldn’t be expected to think through all the possible scenarios on their own. Trusted adults need to help them walk through the night in their minds and think through what might happen.


Help teens find a balance between “This is going to be the best night of my life!” and “Everybody keeps talking about all the bad things that can happen on prom night and now I’m not sure I want to go.” In addition to helping them balance their own expectations, parents and school officials should be clear about their expectations. Will students be allowed to come and go at prom? Which activities before and after will have adult supervision?

What’s the plan?

Parents and teens should have an open conversation about the plans for the evening, even if they change a hundred times. For instance, who does your teenager plan to spend the evening with? If they have a date, do you trust the date? If they go with a group, will they be with the group the entire time or will they separate at any point? Is there a pre-party, post-party, overnight plan? If so, what will be the means of transportation?

In case of emergency…

Perhaps most importantly, discuss emergency protocol with your teenager before prom. Be sure to include things like, “It’s okay to call me in the middle of the night to pick you up if somebody’s drinking and driving” or “Don’t let anybody talk you into having sex if you’re not ready. Have an escape plan so you don’t feel forced into it. You can call me to come get you then, too.”

Preventative Measures

You can’t plan for every possible scenario, but there are some preventative measures other schools and families have taken to ensure a safe evening for participants.

Prom-to-dawn events

Some schools, knowing the temptations and hazards of prom night after the dance, have instituted all night events to keep students in one location together. Think Project Graduation but for prom night. Incentives like raffles, arcades, and other games motivate students to stick around instead of heading to hotels unsupervised.


Some schools have breathalizers required for any student entering prom. This cuts down on those showing up to the event under the influence, but it does nothing to curb drinking after the dance.


If parents are unsure whether their teen (or their friends) will make good decisions surrounding drinking and driving, some rent a limo for the evening. At the very least it ensures a sober driver.

Find Friends Phone App

To keep track of your kid throughout the night, have them check-in whenever they transition from one place to another or at certain intervals throughout the evening. Add another layer of keeping tabs by using the Find Friends app to trace them based on the location of their cell phone.

A prom you don’t want to miss

Perhaps the best way to keep students at prom for the duration of the event is to make it something they don’t want to miss. Include a meal so students don’t have to eat beforehand, or have the DJ incorporate a dance party (complete with dance instructor) into the evening somehow.