Teen Parenting Tips: What Is the Prom Promise?

A Campaign to Raise Awareness for Drinking on Prom Night

Teenage girls together at the prom.
Teenage girls together at the prom. Jupiterimages/Getty Images

The 'prom promise' is a pledge that some parents ask their teenagers to take and sign prior to attending the high school prom. It is a promise to not use alcohol or drugs while they are out on prom night.

How Did the Prom Promise Start?

In 1990, Nationwide® Insurance started its Prom Promise campaign. Within the program, the company organized a contest which encouraged student committees to develop interesting and compelling ways to promote anti-drinking and drug initiatives.

It continues to be used as a way for students to learn about the dangers associated with substance abuse.

'Developed and written by students, the Nationwide® Prom Promise® challenges young people to consider the consequences-prior to prom night - of drug or alcohol - use to help avoid impulsive and possibly regretful consequences.'

The Prom Promise Today

Since its introduction, many parent organizations and other companies interested in teen and driver safety have adapted the 'prom promise' campaign.

Parents that help organize proms, as well as organizations like MADD, will often distribute and share prom promise forms. Individual parents may ask their teen to sign the pledge prior to giving them permission to attend the prom.

Companies like AAA have developed similar campaigns to raise awareness about drunk driving around prom season.

The Prom Promise Pledge

The prom promise is often rewritten, but all forms take on the same meaning as Nationwide's original Prom Promise® pledge:

I promise not to use alcohol or other drugs. This is a promise I take seriously. It's one I intend to keep, for my sake and the sake of my friends and family.

Should You Make Your Teen Take the Prom Promise?

Many parents are concerned about allowing their teen to go to prom because of alcohol, drugs and sex and the party atmosphere of prom night.

In some families, getting permission to go to prom can be a big deal and lead to an even bigger argument.

It is up to each parent to decide if the pledge is something they are going to require of their teenager before going to prom. Whether the teen will keep to this promise is another question and that is why some parents do not even bother with this 'formality.'

The Pledge Leads to a Healthy Conversation

In the very least, parents can use the prom as another opportunity to have a conversation with their kids about the dangers of alcohol and drugs. Even if you are not going to require their signature on the pledge paper, use it as an excuse to sit down and talk.

Prom is a fun night and one that many young adults look forward to for years. It is also filled with parties that can include the temptation to drink or do drugs.

As a parent, a simple conversation to remind your teen that they are responsible for their actions may be all you can do. It is up to them to make the right decisions throughout the night.

Sometimes it even helps to put things into perspective and tell them that it is not just them, but their friend's safety that is important. If their best friend got in the car with her drunk boyfriend and died in a crash, how would they feel?

That answer alone may make them stop and think later.

Also, be sure to let your teen know that if they do drink, they can call you for a ride home. Talk about the consequences of that choice in the morning, but make sure they get home safe first!

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