Excessive drinking at high school proms has led many schools to crack down on carousing with restrictions that echo a theme: Read kids the riot act, then let them loose in a secure setting, USA Today reports.
Many schools ask students to sign contracts that agree to suspension if they’re caught drinking; hire buses to shuttle students to and from the dance, eliminating limos as places to stash beer; and even require that parents accompany each couple to a pre-dance reception.
Last May, the junior prom at Rye High School in New York was marred by dozens of teens who were so drunk they required hospitalization. In September, nearly 100 students attending a homecoming dance at another school in Westchester County Scarsdale High arrived drunk. Both schools threatened to cancel proms this spring unless students agreed to radical rule changes that they themselves drew up.
Activists agree that teen alcohol use needs a higher profile. They note that federal anti-drug campaigns often target hard drugs, not alcohol. A 2002 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth noted that 25% of 2001’s 50,000-plus TV commercials for alcohol aired during programming were more likely to be seen by underage viewers.
Washington State’s Department of Social and Health Services pours $5 million annually into anti-drinking programs aimed at grades six through 12. In the fall of 2000, 46% of Washington high school seniors reported using alcohol in the last 30 days; in 2002, 42% had. In 2000, 31% of seniors admitted to binge drinking, defined as having five or more consecutive beers; in 2002, 27% did.