LAWTON, OK (TNN) - For many high school students, prom is a big moment in their life and many want to celebrate it as big as they can. But often, that can also mean pushing limits, leading to underage drinking and drug use.
Ahead of prom season, Lawton police have been speaking to high school students about how to have a safe prom night.
“Obviously, we want every student to come home safely that night,” said Sgt. Timothy Jenkins with the Lawton Police Department. “So, we feel that by us coming out here and showing them some of the dangers to watch out for and give them information on what to do if they see some of these things.”
During the assemblies, the department spoke to kids about the dangers of drinking and driving and also told them to keep an eye on their drinks, their friends and their dates.
“That’s the last thing we want, is to have to deal with a fatality accident, or some kid that gets in trouble while they’re at the prom," said Sgt. Jenkins. "So for us, the Lawton Police Department coming out and helping stop some of this and teach them, hey this is what we’re going to do if we get in these situations and we run into you. By us coming out here and telling them those things, hopefully it will deter them to say, ‘no, let’s not do that’ and then tell their friends ‘let’s not do that,’ as well.”
The executive director at Roadback, an agency in Lawton that provides programs for those with drug and alcohol addiction, said on big nights like prom, students often try illegal substances, but don’t realize it may affect their lives long-term.
“Young kids in the United States, itself, have tried their first drug or their first drink of alcohol at the age of 12. That is the average age of use for adolescents, 12," said Nivian Rozumialski. "That’s your average 7th to 8th grader. If they’re starting it back then, I can only imagine, if they continue, how bad it’s going to get, because it truly is an addiction and it’s not something you can stop on your own. Just because it’s occasionally, or every once in a while, or when it’s available, doesn’t mean that it won’t become an addiction.”
Rozumialski also has advice for parents who are planning on hosting after prom parties: don’t.
“A lot of parents think that as long as they’re at home, they’ll be OK. No. Parents can still get charged for allowing minors to drink,” said Rozumialski. “There is a charge here in Comanche County for that. So, they’ll get in just as much trouble as the kids do. They need to realize if it’s not OK until they’re 21, then it’s not OK until they’re 21.”
Rozumialski said it is important for parents to ask their kids questions about their prom night plans, to find out where they’re going, who they’re hanging out with, and what activities will be going on. Ultimately, if your child does get in a situation where they drank alcohol or used drugs, make sure they know it is OK to give you a call if they need a ride, rather than them being under the influence and out on the roads.