Every year as prom time approaches, we have graphic photos on our front page of young accident victims.
Luckily, the bloodied persons pictured are not actually victims of an accident, but rather were area high school students participating in mock accidents to make teens aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, especially during prom season.
This is an exciting time of year for high school students.
Graduation ceremonies and celebrations are on the horizon, but for the next few weeks students are focusing on the glamorous annual prom season.
The annual event marks a time for making lifelong memories, but when alcohol and a lack of responsibility are combined with that special night, those memories can turn to tragedy quickly.
The prom should be a time of joy, and that's why it's important that parents talk with their teens about the consequences of drinking alcohol, not just on prom night, but any time.
Teens must know that drinking alcohol during their big night does not make them adults. Parents must be sure their teens know the rules now, before proms are held.
Parents must be sure teens know not to get into the car with any driver who has been drinking or doing drugs, and teens must know they are responsible for their own actions. If teens truly want to prove what adults they have become, they must show they know how to prove they're worthy of the responsibility.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MADD, offers a primer for teens and their parents:
A teen should know his or her date. If it was an arranged date, be sure they get together with their prom partner before their big night, and parents should get to know who the date is, too.
Curfews should be made clear.
A parent or other adult friend or relative should be near a phone on prom night in case the teen needs assistance.
Teens need to know that parents must be kept informed of plans and if the plans change, the teens should know to call home to tell the family just where they're going and when.
And, if despite all the precautions, teens find themselves in situations involving drunken people who are attempting to drive, or if the teen himself becomes intoxicated, parents should let him (or her) know that they can be called at any time to come get their child. Save the lectures for the following day, but make sure the teen knows they have a safety net, no matter what.
Today's parents and teens are busy, not just with prom details, but also, perhaps, with sports and other extracurricular activities and preparing for graduation. But being busy shouldn't keep parents from taking the time to talk with their teens about the dangerous facts of life in the adult world.
Good parents have probably said it all before, and more than once.
Saying it another time surely won't hurt. It may prevent those bloody front-page pictures from becoming reality.