Underage drinking, unfortunately, can be expected to happen during the months of the ‘killing season’ (from April to September). Underage drinking is pervasive, and often it is accompanied by the use of other drugs. The well-known organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving aggregates and reports on drunk driving accidents and activities. One useful way to represent the pervasiveness of underage drinking is to categorize accidents involving the use of alcohol according to age group. Prom safety programs can help bring awareness to the problem of underage drinking as well.
MADD’s statistic page refers to conclusions from “Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings”:
Driving under the influence of alcohol was associated with age in 2010. The rate was highest among persons aged 21 to 25 (23.4 percent). An estimated 5.8 percent of 16- or 17-year-olds and 15.1 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year. Beyond age 25, these rates showed a general decline with increasing age.
The annual increase in reported crashes suspected to involve underage drinking is why attorney Ciarimboli used this term in his prom safety program presentation at Wright Township, PA’s Crestwood High. We’d like to remind both parents and students that an easy and effective way to avoid the killing season is simply to talk about getting rides and always feeling OK with asking for rides at any time.
The Times Leader article from April quoted below discusses our prom safety program and most importantly exemplifies how students and parents can and do openly talk about the realities of underage drinking. Other law firms around Pennsylvania have either endorsed or started their own prom safety programs. See “Prom safety promotions” (source: Edgarsnyder.com) for a few examples of central and northern PA-based prom safety programs and strategic partnerships (from multiple firms and/or agencies).
Crestwood session aimed at helping students to stay safe at this time of year.
By EILEEN GODIN – Times Leader Correspondent
Wright Twp — One irresponsible action like driving impaired during prom season can cost young adults their future — and possible their lives.
Attorneys Greg Fellerman and Ed Ciarimboli delivered that message Thursday to Crestwood High School students who afterward agreed to take the Safe Prom Pledge. With prom season in full swing, Fellerman & Ciarimboli said they hope their presentation will encourage conversations at home about calling for a safe ride home.
April through September is a dangerous time for youths, Fellerman said. The urge to celebrate accomplishments and anxiousness to begin a new chapter is great.
But he called this time of year “the killing season” due to the high rate of students killed in crashes.
“We know they will be around drugs and alcohol,” Ciarimboli said. “We wanted to do something to get the message out.”
The full auditorium of sophmores, juniors, and seniors quieted down quickly when a video clip of the story of Mid Valley 8 unfolded. On March 6, 1981, eight students from the Scranton area were killed instantly when their car flilpped and landed upside down. At the time, this was one of the worst automobile accidents in US history, Fellerman said.
“This happened 30 years ago,” Ciarimboli said. “It is still happening.”
Another sobering example was a publlic service announcement from Zephyr Dresser-Peck of New York, who was driving while intoxicated in May 2007, got into a crash, and killed his best friend, Android Dean-Lispon, after their prom.
“I guarantee your parents would rather have you call them for a ride late at night, than talk to us following an accident,” Fellerman said.
Along with other prom preparations, students did say discussions with parents on drugs and alcohol are a priority.
Tiler Black, a senior, said he talked with his father about prom safety and the importance of calling for a ride.
“It was not a hard conversation to have with my dad,” Black said.
Junior Lauren Mack said her parents have talked with her about not hesitating to call.
Vice Principle Bonnie Gregory and Kellie Matthews, a math teacher, brought the program to the school board’s attention. Last summer Crestwood School District lost one of its own, Brian Madry, in a fatal accident where alcohol was suspected. Looking out into the eyes of the student body, Matthews asked them all to sign the pledge before picking up their prom tickets.
“We all want to see all of you back here on Monday,” she said.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
EdgarSnyder.com (2012) “Prom Safety Promotions and Community Involvements.” Retrieved 17 Sept. 2012 from http://www.edgarsnyder.com/community-service/prom.html
Godin, Eileen (2012). Prom risks in focus. The Times Leader, 27 April 2012. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2012 from http://www.scribd.com/doc/91496066/Times-Leader-04-27-2012
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (2012). “Statistics.” MADD.org. Retrieved 17 Sept. 2012 from http://www.madd.org/statistics/
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (2011). “Results from the 2010 NSDUH: Summary of National Findings.” Retrieved 17 Sept 2012 from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.htm