Operation Prom reminds teens to stay safe during prom season

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

Operation Prom reminds teens to stay safe during prom season

The Lawton Constitution

By Chris Wilson

April 23, 2021

Wichita Mountains Prevention Network (WMPN) is partnering with local schools to launch Operation Prom, a social media campaign dedicated to reminding teens that this prom season, they do not have to be drunk or high to have fun.

According to AAA, 31 percent of teens report it likely that they and their friends will experiment with drugs and/or alcohol during prom. Additionally, 87 percent of teens say their friends are more likely to get behind the wheel after drinking rather than calling for a ride. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on everyone, but teens in particular have suffered greatly,” says Jennifer Gormley, RPC Prevention Specialist with WMPN. “After a year of social distancing, this prom season is the first time most have been able to gather with friends and celebrate, and that cabin fever means an increased risk of harmful behavior.”

To help teens stay safe, parents should talk to their children about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has tips for how to have a productive conversation with your teen:

  1. Clearly communicate that you do not want your child using drugs and alcohol.
  2. Talk about the short and long-term effects of drugs and alcohol and the toll it takes on mental/physical health and how it can hinder the ability to make good decisions.
  3. Explain that experimenting with drugs and alcohol during adolescence is very risky and dangerous because the brain is still developing.
  4. Look for blocks of one-on-one time where you can talk to them such as after dinner, to or from schools, before bed, while watching TV together, etc.
  5. Take a walk or drive together, your teen may be more privy to listen when they do not feel like they are under a microscope.
  6. Remember to listen to what they have to say, too! In order to make the conversation more meaningful, it is important for your child to also be able to express their thoughts and feelings about drugs and alcohol also.

Remember: it is important to talk to teens early and often about the negative consequences of drug and alcohol abuse.