Do you have a youth graduating from high school?

Last revised: March 6, 2020


Use these tips to reduce the risks associated with graduation parties and other events such as prom!

Grade 12 graduation is an exciting time for youth and for parents! Your youth may participate in various grade 12 events such as car rallies, spring break trips and graduation celebrations such as prom. For many people, prom is a nostalgic night that brings youth together to commemorate friendships and share memories. As parents, while it may be fun experiencing these events with your youth, it’s equally important to discuss the not so fun occurrences that may happen during this time.

Did you know that prom season, from May 15th to June 30th, coincides with the notable yearly increase in alcohol-related emergency room visits among youth aged 14-18 in Ottawa?

You are your child’s first line of defence against drugs, including alcohol. Have an open dialogue with your youth about the risks associated with substance use and together, encourage them to identify ways they can reduce risky behaviours and make safer choices.


Below is a checklist of party safe tips and discussion points to help you and your youth prepare for a safe graduating year:

✓  Talk often and openly.  Be approachable, non-judgemental and let your youth be the teacher; learn about their world. For more information on how to talk to your children about drugs visit: Youth and Opioids. 

✓  Ensure a safety plan is in place. Encourage your youth to have an exit strategy if they feel their safety is at risk. Ensure a safe ride home is planned and your youth knows about the risks of impaired driving with cannabis, alcohol and other drugs. For more information watch: Safer Partying, Safer Prom: A message from Ottawa Public Health

   Emphasize the importance of calling 9-1-1. Whenever someone’s health and safety is at risk, tell your youth to get help and to not be afraid to call 911. When there is an emergency, youth report that parents would be the first phone call they make, therefore it’s important that you know what to do. 

  Learn the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose. Overdoses can happen to anyone. Deaths following an opioid overdose are preventable. Stay informed. Learn the signs and symptoms, and how to respond by visiting: Youth and Opioids.

✓  Understand parent’s liability. Your youth may ask you to host a pre- or post-prom celebration. There are many things to keep in mind when agreeing to host, one of them being liability. Parents could be held responsible, investigated and charged for allowing underaged drinking and cannabis use in their home. To learn more about the Parental Responsibility Act watch: Safer Partying, Safer Prom: A message from your Ottawa Police School Officer

✓  Know what events are sanctioned and non-sanctioned. Find out what events your youth is planning on attending, and ask the school administration if the event is school sanctioned or not. Sanctioned events mean the school is responsible in providing supervision and will assume liability. Non-sanctioned events mean the school is not involved or liable, they are usually organized by students or private companies who would be held liable. For more information watch: Safer Partying, Safer Prom: A message from your school.

✓  Talk to your youth about consent. Sex needs to be fully consensual. The law states a person must be ABLE to give consent. This means they must be awake, conscious and sober enough to make a clear decision. Talk to your youth about the risk substance use can have on consensual sex. For more information and a way to start the conversation on consent, visit:  Consent.


We hope you and your youth have a great experience this graduating year. Start the conversation and safe prom planning early. For more party safe tips to share with your youth: Party Safe.


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