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06-18 Date rape, distracted driving and other potential prom night dangers

Posted in Addiction

Date rape, distracted driving and other potential prom night dangers
Prom night is meant to be a memorable event for high school students nationwide. Unfortunately, peer pressure and alcohol often make it a memorable night for the wrong reasons. While a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Seventeen Magazine found that only a small percentage of teens lose their virginity on prom night, as is depicted in so many coming-of-age films, date rape is becoming increasingly common among teenagers. With added distractions on prom night, teens are also more likely to get into car accidents. The likelihood of a tragedy occurring on prom night can decrease by raising awareness and starting a dialogue with teenagers.

Date rape

The rate of date rape is increasing among teenagers with the rise in overall teen dating violence. A recent study by the American Medical Association found that one in five female high school students in the United States have been physically or sexually victimized by a date or significant other. The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault found that approximately 50 percent of reported date rapes occur among teenagers and the high levels of alcohol consumed on prom night only increase these odds. Alcohol increases the likelihood of date rape by lowering an individual’s awareness and reducing his or her ability to fight back while increasing violent tendencies and aggression in potential sexual predators.

In some cases, date rape drugs are used by the perpetrator to sedate his or her date. These drugs include Rohypnol (called “roofies”), GHB and Ketamine (called “Special K”). These can be difficult to detect when mixed with drinks and are especially dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Date rape can happen to men or women, but the statistics show that male-on-female date rape is the most common.

Car accidents

Car accidents remain the leading cause of death among teenagers. Luis Morais, head of Safety Planning at Chrysler Group, states, “Prom and graduation nights should be times teens remember for the rest of their lives, yet these celebratory times also combine some of the deadliest factors for motor vehicle crashes, [including] drinking and driving, driving late at night and driving with multiple passengers.” Even when alcohol is not a factor, research from the Chrysler Group has found that a new driver between the ages of 16 and 17 is almost 50 percent more likely to get in a car accident if he or she has a passenger in the car rather than driving alone. Distractions result when interacting with another person in the vehicle. This is especially true on prom night when emotions are heightened. The driver is three to five times more likely to get into a car accident if there are three or more passengers in the car.

New trends in technology have added to the distractions available to teenagers while driving. Texting and the use of navigations systems while driving take the individual’s eyes off the road, which is even more dangerous when the driver is new and inexperienced. According to research collected by OnlineSchools.com, 77 percent of teenagers are “very or somewhat confident that they can text safely while driving.” This creates a false sense of security, when the reality is that 11 teenagers die in the United States each day as a result of texting and driving.

Drinking and driving

Distractions while driving on prom night are a risk factor for teens but drinking and driving on prom night is not as common as it once was. However, a recent survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) in February 2014 found that 84 percent of teenagers reported they would be more likely to drive drunk than call their parents for a ride if they thought they were going to get in trouble for having consumed alcohol. Up to 22 percent of teens reported that they would ride in a car with a drunk driver over calling their parents for the same reason. Parents starting a dialogue with their teenagers about the potentially fatal consequences of drunk driving versus any punishment from them will likely bring these statistics down.

A unique study conducted in 2011 by Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) found that teens can greatly overestimate their reckless behavior. In the study, 90 percent of teenagers reported that their friends would drink and drive on prom night. After prom night, the same teenagers were polled and only 6 percent said that their friends actually did drink and drive on prom night. This provides hope that while teens might predict they will participate in risky behavior in a hypothetical setting, that does not meet they will act on the option when given the opportunity.

If your or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse or the trauma of date rape, help is available. Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego is a facility that specializes in the treatment of adolescents and teenagers struggling with substance abuse, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis. Call 866-615-7266 to speak with a professional today.

Written by Courtney Howard, Sovereign Health Group writer

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