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Published on April 14th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Prom Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility

Prom season is on top of us and it can be a very special time. It includes special events, parties and ‘after parties’ but often doesn’t include students thinking about safety but the Richland County Sheriff’s Department is.

Sheriff Leon Lott stated that parents spend a great deal of money to make sure their children look great for prom (dresses, tuxedos, prom tickets, photos, limos, dining, flowers/corsages, and hairstyles) For many parents the biggest concern isn’t the cost of attending prom, but the worry about risky behaviors associated with proms.

Sheriff Leon Lott states that tragically each year drinking causes someone to lose their life during prom season. Be on your guard this prom season; don’t drink and drive, be a defensive driver and report erratic drivers to 911 immediately. Adults, who provide alcohol to minors, run the risk of suffering the consequences with either hefty fines, possible jail time or both. Sheriff Leon Lott stated that if you plan on hosting a “prom” after party, where alcohol is provided to underage attendees, be aware that civil and criminal charges can be brought against you. The Department is working closely with school officials, community members and students and we are hearing that several prom after parties, that have already taken place, have included adult supplied alcohol. The Sheriff warns, with several proms still to be held, that everyone needs to be concerned about alcohol being a part of this prom season and the dangers and criminal charges that will come along with it.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, someone supplying alcohol to teens, and unsafe sex are a big worry to all concerned and all who may be on the roads prom night. Parents want to make sure their son or daughter arrives home safely after attending prom; Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott is pleading with graduates, parents, and the community to make sure our kids don’t fall prey to the temptation of alcohol or drugs during this festive time.
Sheriff Leon Lott stated that deputies will be on “Prom Safety Patrol” in an effort to make this prom season safe. Richland County Sheriff’s Department School Resource officers will be out working many of the proms as well as conducting education in the schools on prom safety; while our Traffic Safety, Community Action and Patrol Deputies will be out in force on prom nights. Sheriff Leon Lott is asking parents, students and the community to be on your guard this prom season. The Sheriff added that if you know of parties that involve underage drinking or drugs you should report them immediately.

It is a shame that prom night seems to include news reports of drunk-driving accidents and deaths, date rape, teens displaying poor judgment and making dangerous choices. The following tips can help keep you or your teens safe and lessen the fear or anxiety often accompanied with prom night. Following these steps will ensure making this special occasion something to enjoy and remember with fond memories.

If you see or hear of any underage parties in your area, we encourage you to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIMESC. For more information about prom safety, prom patrols or to discuss your concerns please contact Lieutenant Rafael Gonzales with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department Community Action Team at (803) 576-3191 or rgonzales@rcsd.net .

Use a Prom Safety Checklist:

Ask questions like…
Do you realize hosting an underage party where alcohol is accessible is illegal?
Do you realize if you supply alcohol to underage individuals you will be arrested?
Who will be doing the driving? Will they drive themselves or rent a limo?

If driving themselves, keep a list of names and phone numbers of each teen rider, along with names and addresses of all the parents. Insist that the car radio be kept at a low volume, limit the number of teen passengers to minimize distractions for the driver, and require each teen to wear a seatbelt.

Get a complete itinerary, including who your teen will be partying with, addresses and phone numbers for the prom location as well as any after-parties your teen plans to attend.
If your teen will be renting a limo, be sure to check the limo company’s driving record, and don’t be afraid to ask the company to provide it to you.

Does your teen know how to contact you throughout the evening? Consider arranging specific check-in times, and make sure you can contact your teen throughout the entire night.

Communicate with your teen specifically about how she would handle difficult situations such as being offered a ride by an intoxicated driver, being offered alcohol or drugs, or pressure to have sex. Be sure to provide parental instruction on how best to deal with problems that may arise.

Insist that there are to be no changes made to the itinerary without your prior approval, and make this a firm rule with no exceptions allowed.

Find out who will be supervising the prom and after-parties. Be sure to speak directly with any parents supervising after-parties your teen wishes to attend, since some parents may allow underage drinking, and may not have the same set of morals and values that you do.

Consider volunteering to assist in supervising the prom or after-parties your teen will attend, which will help ensure there are enough responsible adults watching over the partygoers.

Have very specific and detailed conversations with your teen about alcohol consumption, driving under the influence, drug use and sex, as peer pressure often leads teens to use poor judgment before, during and after prom.
Make sure your teen has phone numbers to trustworthy cab companies programmed into his cell phone, and plenty of money to cover the cost of a cab ride, if deemed necessary for any reason.

Will someone in the home wait up until the teen arrives back home safely? If so, who?

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