Prom safety meetings are unrealistic

Harry Paul, Photo Editor

Adolescence is a time of self-discovery—one in which decisions serve a pivotal place as teenagers learn how to be responsible adults.

Decisions become all the more difficult and important around weighty topics, such as what classes to take, what friends to hang out with, and what social activities to partake in.

The end of the school year is filled with the stress of APs, SATs, finals, Regents, and countless projects.  These stressful events are countered by moments of great excitement, most notably proms and graduations.

Adults will be quick to point out that putting a few hundred high schoolers in one place without strict supervision is a recipe for disaster; prom makes the administration and parents nervous.  These are valid concerns, especially considering how popular illicit use of drugs and alcohol is amongst students.

This year, as in the past, administrators held mandatory meetings for all students who wished to attend either the junior prom or the Gambol.

While such a meeting seemed like a good time to talk about the social, neurological, and legal implications of engaging in dangerous underage drinking and drug use, the meetings held this year did not address any of the important topics.

The majority of time was spent using “scared straight” tactics and reiterating the consequences of showing up with or under the influence of illegal substances.

Nothing happens in a vacuum, especially in high school.  For most students, their first serious encounters with alcohol are at parties.  It is unlikely that a student will be pressed against the wall and forced to drink or be threatened with social isolation if they don’t join in the use of illegal drugs, but peer pressure can come in nuanced and unexpected ways.

In a culture of extreme conformity, even the thought of being the odd one out can push individuals to do things they wouldn’t normally.  To prepare students with the skills they need to responsibly handle such encounters, the school could have brought in one of the many speakers who can teach students to handle realistic situations.

“I know the prom meeting was meant as a measure of behavioral reinforcement for students and as a way of making parents aware of what us students may be partaking in, but in my opinion it functioned more as the latter,” said junior Nicole Boyd.

Many juniors were shocked by the administrations presentation of last year’s senior scavenger hunt list.  Not only did this list not pertain to the activities of junior prom, but it was not made clear to parents that a minority of students partake in such activities, and when they do, it is usually a small subset of the tamer items on such a list.  It was the opinion of many juniors that the list was presented solely for the purpose of shocking parents into more stress and increased questioning and supervision of their children’s lives.

When it comes to a momentous occasion like prom, one would hope for general safety and a fun time for all.  Still, kids will be kids.

Although drinking or doing drugs should not be tolerated, the tactics used at the meetings were ineffective in encouraging kids to be safe in realistic situations.

Having a police officer sternly repeat the legal consequences of drunk driving and having administrators tell us to go out to dinner with our parents after prom instead of going to an after prom celebration is not the best way to go about this.

It is the duty of responsible adult authority figures to aid teenagers in handling realistic situations in mature and responsible ways. Scare tactics are ineffective in instilling responsbility in students.

While students may have never  injected vodka straight into their carteoid arteries and are not at risk of doing so, many would do well from learning how even one beer affects teenage brain development.