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Keep your teenager safe during homecoming festivities

If you're a Louisville parent of a high school student, chances are quite good that your son or daughter is caught up in the fall homecoming hype. Second only to prom for its importance on the school calendar, the annual homecoming dance offers kids a chance to get dressed up and socialize with their peers in a supervised environment.

All that sounds good, but as most parents can attest from their own high school days, a lot can go on at homecoming that isn't listed on the program. Parents get especially worried about underage drinking and driving, as their children don't even have to consume alcohol to be at risk of harm on the highway.

There's no need to put a lid on the festivities for your kids, but there are things parents can do to keep their teenagers safer. Talk to them about the dangers of underage drinking — the enhanced accident risks, potential punishments if a parent or teacher discovers the booze and threat of being arrested on drunk driving charges.

Make sure that your teen is equipped to handle peer pressure to take drugs or drink. Let them know that they never have to ride with a drunken driver, that you will go pick them up any place or any time rather than let them risk getting into a wreck caused by an impaired driver.

Teens also can be at risk for sexual assault during homecoming dances and afterward. Make sure that sons understand that no means no and that daughters are confident enough to refuse to go all the way with boys in order to be popular. The last thing anyone wants is the night to end with an assault followed by criminal charges.

Make sure that if your teen will be driving to the dance that he or she has adequate experience driving at night. Have your teen driver do a test run during daylight hours, navigating the route to pick up a date, head to the restaurant and then to the dance.

If your child winds up injured in an accident on homecoming due to another driver's negligence, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit in the Kentucky civil courts.

Source: Williams County Health Department, "Homecoming Safety Tips for Parents," Margaret Peg Buda, accessed Oct. 06, 2017

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