(Photo courtesy of prom.about.com)
Avoiding the Pitfalls of Prom
By Zelda Dominguez
The sound of sirens blare and the police and fire trucks speed by. Two cars have collided and both vehicles are severely damaged. Shattered glass covers the ground and persons that were ejected from the car lie in the street covered in blood. You can see paramedics treating passengers and taking others away in the ambulance or airlifting them. One officer is giving the breath analyzer to an individual and arresting him, while firefighters are using the jaws of life to get someone else out of the car. You can hear moaning and crying through the devastation.
It could be a very real scene, but the program Every 15 Minutes staged this mock scene at a high school. They are called this because every 15 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies or is seriously injured in an alcohol-related crash. This program aims to educate young teens about the dangers of drinking and driving, but more importantly, to make the right decision when they get behind the wheel. They feel timing is crucial, as many students are just getting their driver’s license; spring break, prom, grad night and graduation are to follow, so Every plans these simulations around this time of the year.
The “prom” can be traced back to simple co-ed banquets that the 19th century American universities held for each year’s graduating class. It got its name from the word promenade, meaning a leisurely walk, as well as the public space in which this kind of walk can take place. It was mostly the Ivy League schools who had the annual tradition of a co-ed banquet. Formal dress and dancing accompanied by a promenade concert was the norm for these affairs.
Chaperones were always present; very strict etiquette was associated with these events. By the 1940s, prom went from the university to the high school, and with it a semi-formal feel. Due to war times, the event often took place in the high school gym. By the 1950’s, it changed with the economy and started to take place in hotel ballrooms and country clubs. Prom started to be an elaborate themed event. Competition ensued for the prom court, and the race for the titles of prom “king” and “queen” began.
Today the prom has not ceased to be a pinnacle event in high school culture. According to Visa’s “2013 Prom Spending Survey,” an average household spends $1,139 for expenses related to prom.
The new trend is a “Promposal.” Back in the day, asking someone to prom entailed a question in person or call them up on the phone. However, this has become an over-the-top, creative, public and sometimes an extra expense: just to ask a date to the prom.
For girls, it has always been about the dress. Some dresses are inappropriate styles, which may not be flattering to the body type. Perhaps Jennifer Lopez wore a dress that does not necessarily fit every body type. The bible instead speaks of modesty.
“They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves” (1 Timothy 2:9, NLT).
According to recent statistics, roughly one third of alcohol related teen traffic fatalities occur between April to June, which is considered peak prom season. Liberty Mutual states 54 percent of teens admit to drinking four or more alcoholic beverages during or after prom. Be smart, and do not get into a car where the driver has been drinking. With alcohol and drugs come poor judgment, irresponsible choices and risky behavior.
“Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:17-18, NLT).
The media portrays prom night as being an opportunity to have sex. Many teens have that expectation, and coupled with alcohol, the stage is set. According to a study in The Journal of American Medical Association, one in five female high school students are the victim of physical or sexual abuse by a date. It would seem the risk would be higher on prom night, especially when alcohol or drugs are involved.
Some teens will attend parties prior to prom, or after-parties at hotels and homes where the indulgence continues. Too often, teens make bad decisions that land them with a regrettable post on social media, in the emergency room, prison, pregnant, or with a sexually transmitted disease.
You are beautiful, loved and precious to God. You do not have to use your body to get people’s eyes on you. Do not live with regret for a moment of poor judgment. Don’t be a part of this culture. Have an accountability person that can call you. Let them know what your plans are. Be able to call them if you need a ride. Carry a charged cell phone, and do not be afraid to call your parents if need be.
Although prom has become an important rite of passage for teens, one thing has remained: having a good time. Be smart, make safe decisions, and enjoy.