Each year at this time, we witness the annual ritual of seniors shifting gears as they close their high school years.  Decisions are being finalized about college or post graduation plans.  This ending brings with it a cascade of celebrations including prom, awards nights and dinners,  graduation and parties with families and friends.   This “Season” can bring an increase in risky behavior for many teens and a decrease in clear messaging and limits from parents.  The research is clear that teens benefit from parents who maintain close connection, who restrict access to drugs and alcohol, who discuss why it is important to postpone use of alcohol and drugs, who are united with other parents, who role model appropriate behavior.  Remember that the adolescent brain is “under reconstruction” and that it is difficult for teens to anticipate consequences, make rationale decisions, to assess risk and to ‘think things through”.  Adults often find themselves voicing, “What were you thinking”.  It is our job to serve as their “External Frontal Lobe” and to coach for appropriate, thoughtful choices.  Asking “What would happen if” is one question that engages adolescents to stop, think, decide.

YHC, in collaboration with Plymouth District Attorney Tim Cruz, SADD and Caron Treatment Center, has updated our Prom and Graduation Guide publication. The guide provides current research and guidelines, including a sample contract for teens and parents.  We will be making it available and hope everyone will use it and help keep teens safe during this especially risky season.