COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Prom season is in full swing in the Valley! Some schools have already hosted the traditional dance, while others are lined up to do so in the upcoming weeks.
Experts say this is an important time of year for parents to overcome the fear of being "no-fun," to ensure their teen returns from prom festivities safe and sound.
"We see an increase in teen-related fatalities as far as accidents mainly due to alcohol, we also see an increase in teen pregnancy," said Monica Cobis, Relationship Educator at the Pastoral Institute in Columbus.
While prom night can be a memorable rite of passage for teens, alcohol, sex, and sometimes drugs and violence can take the night on a sharp turn south.
Experts at the Pastoral Institute say it's important to know exactly where your teen is before, during, and after prom. They add that having a plan and expectations in place can help.
"That there are check in times that they call in, that there's a code word which is a safety word for the kids to be able to call their parents or even their friends and not have to disclose a lot of information but that one word will actually let that person know, 'I need help,' " said Cobis.
Some trends in "after-party" activities can range from a visit to the movies, to sleepovers at hotels and friend's houses. Experts say it's best to make sure your teen has a curfew and comes home on prom night to prevent sexual assaults, alcohol use, and criminal activity...even if that results in you being the "un-cool" parent.
"They are the parents and so it is their responsibility to say, 'you know what, you can think that I'm no fun or whatever at this point, but guess what... we love you, and we care about your safety,' " said Cobis.
School district administrators like those in Harris County are also warning students about making safe choices. Harris County school officials and law enforcement will address students Friday morning about making smart and legal decisions before, during, and after their prom coming up this Saturday evening.