Iola High School students will return to prom this Saturday after the coronavirus pandemic derailed last year’s event. Moran and Humboldt students celebrated their proms last weekend.
It’s a good time to remind everyone, and especially teenagers, about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, Jessica McGinnis, Drug Free Community coordinator for the Allen County Multi-Agency Team (ACMAT) and Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center.
“With COVID-19 restrictions loosening up, more in-person activities are rising,” McGinnis said.
She encourages parents to talk to their teenagers about alcohol and drug use, as well as the dangers of driving while using those substances.
“This prom season, establish a no-alcohol-or-drugs rule, set consequences, and enforce them. Parents need to remind their teens to never ride with someone who has been drinking or using drugs. Make sure he or she understands that you will always pick them up regardless of time or location.”
McGinnis cited several statistics to help parents and teens.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2,121 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver (15-18 years old) in 2018.
Kansas has zero tolerance for drivers under 21 years old who choose to drink and get behind the wheel.
According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, drivers under 21 who are found to have a blood alcohol concentration of .02 or greater face a 30-day suspension of driving privileges followed by a 330-day period of restricted privileges. Also, any person under 21 convicted of consuming or possessing alcoholic beverages will have his/her driver’s license suspended for 30 days under Kansas law.
“According to the 2020 Kansas Communities That Care Student Survey, our Allen County youth 30-day use in beer, wine and hard liquor score was 18% compared to the Kansas State score of 15.85%,” McGinnis said.
“This is a special and memorable time in your teen’s life. It should be one of fun, excitement, and safety. Don’t assume your teen won’t be faced with a potentially life-altering decision. As statistics show, your opinion does matter. Don’t let an opportunity to educate your teen about the dangers of drugs and alcohol use pass you by.”