The homecoming football game and dance is an exciting experience through which high school students can show their school pride, bond with friends, get dolled up, and potentially be crowned homecoming king or queen in front of the entire school. But just like at prom and graduation parties, underage drinking and the pressure to drink is common at homecoming festivities while alcohol-related crashes among teens increase during homecoming season.
Statistics show that teens who drink at such an event are more likely to binge drink than just consume one alcoholic beverage or two. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11% of alcohol consumed in the U.S. is by people between the ages of 12 and 20, and 90% of that alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.
With the risk of death or injury from alcohol poisoning, violent behavior, and, of course, drunk driving, alcohol consumption can turn a night to remember into an unforgettable nightmare. However, you can help your teen have a fun and safe homecoming experience by following a few tips for preventing underage drinking at such events:
- Talk to your teens about alcohol laws, the dangers of alcohol and drinking and driving, and your expectations. Let them know that you expect them to not drink and ask how they will handle a situation that involves alcohol.
- Talk to the parents hosting the party. Ask if alcohol will be served and to whom it will be served. According to the American Medical Association, 20% of teens between the ages of 16 and 18 report that they’ve attended a party with underage drinking and parents present while 5% report that the alcohol was supplied by the parents.
- Help your teens combat peer pressures by coming up with responses that their friends will relate to and accept. For example, if friends pressure your teens to drink, they can say something like, “I’m already in a lot of trouble with my parents. If they find out I’ve been drinking, I’ll be grounded for the rest of the year.” If a friend who has been drinking offers them a ride home, try “Don’t worry, my friend is picking me up.”
- Create a code phrase your teens can use when they’re in an uncomfortable situation and need you to pick them up but that keeps them from feeling embarrassed around friends.
- Let your teens know that you will pick them up if they or their friends have been drinking and don’t have a safe ride home. Their safety comes first, and if they called you instead of driving home, they’re doing the right thing in that situation.
- Don’t be afraid to tell you teens that they can’t go to a certain party if you know that alcohol will be present and potentially served to teens.
- Let your teens throw an after-homecoming party at your house or even just have a few friends over for games, movies, and dinner. You’ll know your teens are safe and not drinking and you can monitor the party for alcohol.