Homecoming should be a time of fun and celebration—an exciting chance for kids to embrace school spirit and friendship. For most kids, the biggest worry on homecoming night will involve finding the right outfit to wear. However, about 5,000 kids die every year from underage drinking. With this statistic in mind, take time to discuss drug and alcohol abuse with your kids—before the party starts.
Work with the School
Contact your child’s school to find out how on-campus events are chaperoned, and to learn what measures the school is taking to educate kids on the risks of drugs and alcohol. When you know what your student is hearing and expecting, you’ll be able to cut to the chase when you start your own conversation about Homecoming festivities.
Lay Down Ground Rules
It may not be as simple as telling your child not to drink or not to get in the car with another kid who has been drinking. Schedule check-in times, make sure your child knows where she is supposed to be and when, and make it clear that if your child ends up in a dangerous situation, she’s free to call you for a ride or for help. Kids may be more likely to hide dangerous activities if they fear your response. Don’t leave room for excuses—make sure your student charges his cell phone before the Homecoming events.
When discussing the risks of drug and alcohol use with your child, get specific. Share local stories of car accidents and talk about alcohol’s role in consequences like violence and date rape. Instead of simply saying that drugs and alcohol are bad, talk about the loss of control, impairment in judgment and potential health risks. Give your child the chance to ask questions, and if you don’t know the answers, work together to do the research and get the answers your child needs.
Offer Safe Alternatives
Give kids a chance to party in a drug- and alcohol-free environment. Help your child throw a party, or work with other parents to arrange a safe gathering. Supervise the event without being too hands-on—kids still want to play music and have a good time without feeling stifled by parents. Don’t allow underage drinking at supervised events.
The LiveFree! Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Pinellas County is devoted to making our community safe, healthy and drug-free. Visit us online to find out how you can help make these goals a reality.