Ask a Sheriff: What kinds of things can I do to prepare my son or daughter for prom and graduation?

Before all of the celebrating begins, take the time to talk with your teen regarding their responsibilities and your expectations, and develop a plan to keep them safe this spring and beyond.

Drug and Alcohol Prevention:
Alcohol use by teens leads to many costly consequences, all of which are preventable. Each year approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking. This includes deaths from motor vehicle crashes, homicides, suicides and other fatal injuries.

On April 21, MADD has their nationally known Power Talk 21 day where you can take the opportunity to discuss with your teen about abstaining from alcohol use. Great resources can be found at the MADD website at to help this discussion take place.

Traffic Safety:
From 2009 – 2011 in Sherburne County, there were 84 crashes involving teen drivers age 20 or younger on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during April, May and June, which is considered prime prom, graduation, and graduation party season. Simple rules to live by will help your teen and their friends arrive alive to enjoy all of the different events this year:

•Wear their seat belt, whether they are driving or a passenger.

•Focus on driving – April is Distracted Driving Prevention Month. Stress to your teen they need to be aware of their surroundings and be ready to react quickly to changing conditions as they drive. Remind them not to talk or text while driving and to obey the speed limit.

Parents and guardians greatly influence a child’s beliefs, attitudes and values, and a child’s decision involving these issues will largely be based on expectations set by parents. Your child may act like your opinion does not matter, but the truth is, you are the No. 1 influence in your child’s life. Set clear rules against drinking and consistently enforce those rules.  Your ability to communicate with your child on these topics, providing a safety plan for your child in case they are in a difficult situation and knowing how to appropriately handle it at the time, and lastly providing guidance to them can help ensure that they will have a memorable event. — Sheriff Joel Brott