Group issues warning for central Ohio parents ahead of prom season


UPPER ARLINGTON, OHIO -- Parents, school administrators, police and community members in central Ohio are banding together to highlight trends and emphasize safety ahead of prom celebrations.

While much of the conversation is catered toward students, Upper Arlington School Superintendent Paul Imhoff said prom safety also involves parents.

"Parents are actually renting cabins and providing alcohol, serving alcohol and drinking with the kids after prom. That is an amazingly horrible idea," said Imhoff. "We want to make sure parents understand not only is it against the law, it's dangerous and it is putting kids in harm's way."

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 1,000 students die each year while celebrating proms and graduations. The 'Stand Project' is an organization that began in Upper Arlington to offer students and parents resources aimed at having a safer night.

At Riverside Methodist Hospital, the Chairman of General Surgery and Trauma Surgeon Dr. John Leff said he hopes he does not see any child rushing in following a post-prom tragedy this year.

"It should be a magical time for these adolescents, but unfortunately one-third of all adolescent alcohol-related mortalities in motor vehicle accidents happen during the prom season," said Dr. Leff. He urged parents to consider a crash is not the only danger. Young brains are forming and alcohol can impact development.

"Alcohol can affect two critical areas: the hippocampus, which is the area we involve with memory. Unfortunately, our brain learns bad memories associated with alcohol use. Also the pre-frontal cortex. That's where we develop the ability for judgment making and impulsiveness," said Dr. Leff.

The Stand Project encourages parents to talk with teenagers ahead of prom night. Dr. Leff works with the organization. "What parents think and communicate to their child matters. First and foremost sit down with your teen and let them know your concerns," he said.

A guide to conversations and top tips can be found here.