Proms and Alcohol Don\’t Mix

For those of you who have teenagers, you know what this time of the year is….Prom Season.  Our daughter, Allison, has modeled her red gown from Frills and Fancies many times around our home.  Now, with only two weeks to go until the big event, she has added the shoes and dazzling earrings to complete the beautiful masterpiece.  Indeed, it’s a magical time in the life of a teenage girl. 

Prom night, unfortunately, can also become a massive party night and an opportunity as a drinking rite of passage for some adolescents.  The reason I bring this up is statistical evidence that alcohol mixed with teenagers under 21 sprinkled with binge drinking can end up creating the opportunity for date rape. Although our girls are not yet in college, they are only one year away from enrolling at a university.  As parents, let’s become educated and aware of how vulnerable our children can be when alcohol is allowed into the picture.  Let’s keep our prom….and our girls….safe!

Read the following statistics: 

o   In 2004, there were about 210,000 rapes, attempted rapes, and sexual assaults in the U.S. (2)
o   About 44% of rape victims are under age 18 (3)
  • An estimated 80 percent to 92 percent of all teen rape victims know their attackers. (4)
o   Because these crimes often occur in situations where drugs and alcohol are being used, many teen victims are reluctant to report date rape due to their own illegal drug use or underage drinking at the time they were assaulted. (5)

More statistics from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, Saint Joseph’s University and the University of Arizona, published in the January 2004 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol:

o   Ninety percent of all crime on college campuses, including rape and murder, is alcohol-related.  Rape is more common on college campuses with higher rates of binge drinking – and alcohol use is a central factor in most college rapes.
o   Overall, one in 20 (4.7 percent) women reported being raped in college since the beginning of the school year – a period of approximately 7 months – and nearly three-quarters of those rapes (72 percent) happened when the victims were so intoxicated they were unable to consent or refuse.
o   Most significantly, women from colleges with medium and high binge-drinking rates had more than a 1.5-fold increased chance of being raped while intoxicated than those from schools with low binge- drinking rates. Other significant risk factors for rape were being under 21 years old, white, residing in sorority houses, using illicit drugs and binge drinking in high school.
o   Heavy episodic drinking (or binge drinking) is the number one public health problem among college students
o   Men need education about what constitutes rape, and women should be better informed of strategies to avoid risky situations. Previous research shows that more women get raped while under the influence of alcohol than under the influence of any other so-called ‘date rape’
o   Binge drinking isn’t a harmless rite of passage but a risk factor in violence against women.
For more information about signs, symptoms and treatment of teen drug abuse, you may find The National Organization of Students Against Substance Abuse website a resource you can use.

Teen Date Rape Sources:

  1. Project on the Status and Education of Women [online]
  2. 2004 National Crime Victimization Survey [online]
  3. RAINN – The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network [online]
  4. Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault [online]
  5. Cincinnati Children\’s Organization [online]
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