WAKEFIELD -- As prom season approaches, Chief Rick Smith and the Wakefield Police Department are providing the following safety tips and guidance for students and parents to ensure a positive and safe experience for all.
The Wakefield Memorial High School senior prom will take place May 31 at Danversport Yacht Club. The junior prom will take place on May 19 at the high school.
For students, prom can be one of the most memorable and exciting events of their high school career, but for parents, it can be a stressful night that is full of worry. Students should remember their decisions can have long-term consequences not just for themselves but for their friends and family as well.
Chief Smith asks that parents reinforce the importance of good decision making with their children and facilitate conversations often and regularly about potentially destructive choices.
“We want students to enjoy themselves and to have fun at prom, but we also want everyone to stay safe and be responsible,” Chief Smith said. “It starts with making good decisions -- especially regarding distracted driving or driving under the influence.”
Students -- Stay safe before and after the prom:
- Think responsibly: Don’t feel pressured to take part in inappropriate behavior — prior, during, or after the dance. It’s OK to say no, even if others are participating.
- Travel safely: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers. Always buckle up, no matter how short the trip. It’s the law.
- Don’t text and drive. Texting and cellphone use while driving is illegal for Massachusetts teens under 18 years old.
- Don’t drink and drive, and don’t get in a car with a driver who has been drinking
- Be alert: Dating violence is an issue that can affect anybody — those in a long-term relationship, or people who just met. Abuse can be verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual. Know beforehand what your boundaries are and communicate those to your partner. Where ever you go after prom, don’t be afraid to tell a family member, friend, or call 911 if you or someone you know is abused or in danger.
Parents -- You play a major role in helping children have a safe, yet memorable evening:
- Communicate: Have a pre-prom talk to set guidelines for students during prom and remind them of the consequences for breaking the rules. Reinforce that you will not tolerate underage drinking, and that’s it’s illegal. Get students’ itineraries for the evening, including whom they will be with, where they’ll be going before and after the prom, and the phone numbers of where you can contact them. Come to a fair decision on a curfew and express any concerns about their health and safety.
- If students are not coming home right after prom, set up check-in times throughout the night and following morning.
- Plan ahead: After prom parties should be adult supervised. Students are recommended to always go with a buddy and notify parents or guardians where they’ll be and how to reach them.
- Adults should not let teens drink at home, even if no one plans to drive and keys are confiscated. Keep alcohol and prescription drugs in a locked cabinet.
- Under the Social Host law, parents are criminally and civilly liable if they allow underage drinking to occur in their houses.
- Be understanding: Let students know they can call you at any time for help, advice or a ride with the promise to not shame or embarrass them in front of others.
- Establish a code word your teen can say to let you know if they are in trouble or need your help.
The Wakefield Police Department wishes everyone a safe and enjoyable prom season!