Pricey Proms Increase Pressure on Teens to “Put Out”
Parents need to confront consequences of expensive social events on teens
Friday, May 13, 2011
(San Diego) – Prom season is in full swing. Attending the average prom is an event that has become increasingly expensive. In a survey conducted by Visa, the average family with a high school student attending the prom will spend between $542 and $1,073 on the prom, depending on their incomes and the areas in which they live. The price tag includes clothing, transportation photos, tickets and accompanying social events.
Family law attorney Myra Chack Fleischer, lead counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby and a mom with three teenagers of her own, says ever more extravagant proms carry another price tag that’s potentially most expensive than any limo or dress: the pressure for teens to have sex on prom night.
“Prom season brings the night parents will foolishly indulge their children by footing the bill for an expensive evening, relaxing their rules and letting kids stay out late, even booking hotel rooms so they don’t risk driving home late when tired or intoxicated. The next thing they know, prom night is the night they become grandparents.
“This may seem alarmist, but as a family law attorney I see it far too often. Families end up wrestling with custody, visitation, and support issues just as their children should be celebrating their high school graduation and plans for college,” warned Fleischer.
Fleischer says the peer pressure and price tag can overwhelm many teens. “If adult women feel pressured to ‘put out’ and have sex with a man just because he took her out for a nice dinner, imagine the pressure on a 17-year-old girl whose date spent $1,000 on taking her to the prom. The innuendo involved with pricey proms is huge.”
Alcohol use on prom night makes it even more difficult for teens to make good decisions. According to a survey of 2,500 11th and 12th graders commissioned by Liberty Mutual insurance in 2010, 90% of teens believe their counterparts are more likely to drink and drive on prom night. About 36% of students surveyed say parents have allowed them to attend parties where it is known that alcohol will be served.
Fleischer offers the following advice both as an attorney, and as the mother of teenagers.
- Don’t wait until prom night to talk with your kids. Establish guidelines early.
- Absolutely NO drug or alcohol use should be permitted and teens should not attend events where you believe alcohol will be served. No exceptions. “Teens need to keep their minds clear and wits about them,” says Fleischer. “Let’s also remember that underage drinking is illegal.”
- Set a curfew. It may be slightly more lenient than normal, but teens should not be out all night. “Come home before the crazy stuff happens,” says Fleischer. Establish consequences for a broken curfew.
- Buddy up. Encourage your teens to attend the prom with friends. It’s best when parents know their kids’ friends and their parents. Have a parent to parent talk about your expectations for prom night behavior.
- Have a candid conservation with your teen about sex on prom night. Even if it seems embarrassing, ask whether your teen has discussed having sex on prom night with his or her date. Make sure your teen understands that “no means no.”
- Offer to help put a plan in place with exit strategies so your teen can walk away from peer pressure and feel more confident. Make sure your teen can reach you and ask for help, no questions asked. Give your teen permission to call another trusted adult. As a fail-safe, pre-arrange cab fare and make sure your teen knows how to get a ride home.
- Resist renting a limousine, going out for an expensive dinner, or paying too much for formal attire. Fleischer says it’s also best when expenses are equally shared by teens and their families, and not just the responsibility of young men.