By Kelly Spors
Prom season is undoubtedly among the busiest times of the school year. Many school administrators, in the rush to organize the event and wrap up spring semester, may overlook key steps that can keep students safe during the event.
Here are five ways to improve your school’s prom safety:
1. Build Student Awareness
Provide students with practical, easy-to-follow tips for how to make prom night safe and enjoyable. This includes reminding them to discuss their prom night itinerary in advance with their date and other friends to ensure everyone knows the plan. They should also give their parents or guardians details about their plans and contact information for their date and friends and commit to keeping their cell phones on and checking in with their parents every few hours. Encourage them to attend prom in groups and stay with that group until the night is over. These tips can be provided to students through school announcements, assemblies and emails.
2. Keep Parents Informed and Involved
Give parents up-to-date information about the school’s prom night schedule and encourage them to ask questions and discuss prom night plans with their children. Parents should get a cell phone number and other contact information for their children’s prom date and other accompanying friends and their parents. They should be encouraged to supervise (or at least be home) for any pre- or post-prom parties in their home, according to a prom safety guide by the Rhode Island State Police. Schools can distribute such information to parents through emails, newsletters, and social media.
3. Make Safety a Top Priority
Most schools have a prom-planning committee. This committee should be tasked with making safety a top priority. They should consider all the possible emergency situations or “what ifs” that could happen before, during and after prom and make action plans for how they will deal with such issue if it arises. Many schools also host after-prom parties at places like bowling alleys or at the school itself to offer students a fun, safe, and alcohol-free way to spend time with friends after the main event. Getting parents and students to serve on the planning committee can help ensure prom safety is addressed from all perspectives and can help get the word out.
4. Enforce a Strict No-Alcohol and Drugs Policy
Alcohol and drug use pose major safety hazards for students at prom, both at the event itself and before and after. Having a formal strict policy that bans drugs and alcohol – and imposes disciplinary measures on students found to abuse it – can protect the school from potential liability and reduce the chance that illegal substances will show up at prom. This policy should be clearly communicated to students in the days leading up to prom.
5. Start Prom Safety Planning Early
Given the last-minute rush that inevitably happens before prom, schools should start the prom planning process early, so they have time to adequately address safety concerns.