Question of the Week

April 11, 2005


While "Peer Pressure Season" lasts all year, it can often peak with prom and graduation.

"Lots of people feel pressure from their friends to drink, do drugs, or lose their virginity on prom night. As with your other prom plans, take a minute to think in advance about how you'll avoid getting into an unwanted situation. You'll feel more confident and in control if you're prepared. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol impair your judgment and can hurt you. And there's also the fact that drinking and drugs are illegal - you don't want to spend prom night in the lockup. Be sure you have a safe ride home, whether it's a designated driver, parent, or that chauffeur-driven limo. It's also a good idea to have cab fare or to bring a cell phone and the number of an older sibling or parent just in case your ride gets wild. Substances like alcohol and drugs can also play a role in teens' losing their virginity on prom night. The decision to have sex is an important personal choice that involves many factors. Don't feel pressure to have sex just because it's a special night - your night will be even more
memorable if your memories are happy instead of regretful. In fact, lots of girls and guys who think about it in advance decide that there's enough excitement on prom night anyway - and that having sex is a special, personal decision that shouldn't just be a sideline to prom fun."

While you want to enjoy prom night and have fun, you also want to be in a state of mind to remember it. Keeping your mind clear can also help you to make choices that you are less likely to regret later.

"[A]lcohol use is associated with a range of health risks, including: *Unsafe sex *Unwanted pregnancy *Drink driving and road accidents *Fights *Criminal activity."

All these risks -- and more -- can have health consequences. Thinking about the possible risks and consequences without being surrounded by the excitement of the evening can help as you decide ahead of time what you do -- and do not -- want to be a part of your prom night fun.

"On Wednesday, a grisly automobile accident will take place at Chalmette High School. Glass will shatter, and property will be damaged. Some victims will walk away with only minor injuries, and some will die. Thankfully, the scenario will just be a staged re-enactment. Dubbed 'Project Prom Safety,' the scene may be fake, but the message is very real.... 'Our plan is to stage a mock fatality where prom couples are drinking and driving, and hit an unsuspecting innocent family,' ... St. Bernard Sheriff's Office personnel will conduct a field sobriety test on the 'drunken' students and read them their Miranda rights. St. Bernard Parish Coroner Bryan Bertucci will pronounce the victims dead. 'You can watch the reaction of the kids; at first you see them laughing and joking, and after the
accident and the drama happens, it gets very, very quiet,'"

Sometimes, knowing what you are going to say (and why you are going to say it) can help if a situation arises where there is pressure to do something you really don't want to do (or something you want more time to think about before you decide to do). Even in a situation you may not be ready for, you may not have planned for, and you may not think you want to deal with right at that moment, you can still make the choice that is right for you.

"You need to take charge here. Stop and think. Ask yourself some questions. Could this be trouble? Will it break the law? Will it break the school or home rules? Will people in authority be angry with me or disappointed? Will someone be hurt - body or feelings? Will I be safe? Do I feel good about this? Assess the situation - think about what is happening. You need to be able to recognise bad peer pressure. ... Make a good decision. Think: do I want to do this? (what is your body telling you?) what good things could happen? what bad things could happen? ... Think quickly. Decide which strategy to use for saying NO. If this is a situation where you are being bullied or in danger, then you must ensure your safety first. This might mean agreeing to think about it and then saying 'NO' when you are in a safer place, or not alone. ... Whatever you do, speak quickly and firmly. Make it clear that your mind is made up and you don't want to talk about it any more."

It can sometimes be difficult to say, "No," to a friend or date. Even offering, "Later," or "Not tonight, " as an answer can be easier to say -- and easier to receive. This will also give you more time to decide what you really want to do.

"Prom can be magical. But it's not the only time you'll have this much fun: There are plenty of other life-defining events as well. So don't let anyone use prom night to
pressure you into drinking, drugs, sex, or breaking your curfew - or doing anything else you don't want to. It's your prom. Enjoy it the way you want to."

Questions of the Week:
What should you have with you as you go out on prom night -- or any night? What situations can you be prepared for before they arise? What can you do to avoid situations that you know will be problematic? How can you be ready to deal with situations that surprise you? What should you do if those you are with are making choices that you don't want to make, choices that concern you, or choices that make you feel unsafe in some way? How can you communicate the choices that you want to make in a clear way that others will understand and respect? What should you do if your choices are not respected?

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

Request Question of the Week by email 
QoW Archives: 9/2002 - 8/2003 9/2003 - 8/2004 9/2004 - 8/2005 9/2005 - 8/2006 9/2006 - present

Custom Search on the AE Site