Every year millions of teens attend their senior prom, and many of those teens find a way to add alcohol to their party plans. While high school seniors should be allowed to celebrate their impending graduation and go out with their friends, adding alcohol to the mix can be dangerous – and many parents feel powerless to stop it.

Thankfully, there are ways you can help prevent prom night drinking. The most important step is to simply talk to your teen. Tell them that you know many of their friends will be drinking, and that you don’t want them to drink and why. Remember that even the best behaved teenager can easily be tempted into trying “just one” drink, and it easily snowballs from there. Let them know you’re there for them if they need to call for a ride home.

In addition to talking with your teen, consider these steps to help prevent prom night drinking:

  • Make sure your teen has a plan for their prom night including where they’ll be before and after the big event, and approximately what times. You should know the details of their plan and there should be a scheduled phone check-in, or perhaps two throughout the evening.
  • Know what alcohol is in your home and how much of it there is. One of the easiest ways for teens to get alcohol is not to buy it, but to grab a few extra bottles or beers from the house. Count everything and make sure none of it goes missing.
  • Know who’s driving at all times. If it’s a fellow student, meet them and tell them your expectations. If there is a rented limo, call the limo company and as about their policies on alcohol. The driver should know to pull over and call it in if underage drinkers have any alcohol in the vehicle.
  • Talk to the school well ahead of time. It’s best if the school plans on serving food at the prom, and have clear policies about how any alcohol use will be handled.
  • Make sure your teen has a fixed curfew time, even if it’s later than normal, and that they know you will be up waiting for them.

Underage drinking is not only illegal, it’s also a safety concern – and tell them not to accept a ride from anyone who’s been drinking at all. Teens don’t know their “limit” and often drink too fast, and that can lead to poor decision making. Teens may also be scared of getting in trouble and choose to drive home even when it would be safer to call for help.