Do you have a youth graduating from high school?

Last revised: June 2, 2022

Use these tips to help you prepare for 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 have an open dialogue with your youth about substance use, encourage them to identify ways they can make safer choices.

Below is a checklist of party safer tips and discussion points to help you and your youth prepare for 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 and Have THAT talk About Substance Use Health.

Ensure a safety plan is in place. Encourage your youth to have an exit strategy before they attend their event! This way they already have a plan in case they feel they need to leave or don’t feel safe. Some suggestions include ensuring a safe way 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. Think about having a “safety word” they can text you, in case they need help.

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 and Stop Overdose OttawaOther important supports for overdose prevention include the National Overdose Prevention Line at 1-888-688-NORS (6677) or downloading and using the free Brave app for anonymous harm reduction support (works with IOS and android phones).

Understand parents 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 visit: Parent Responsibility Act - Ottawa Police Service and Having a party | CAMH.

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.

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 webpage.

We hope you and your youth have a great experience this graduating year. Start the conversation and safer prom planning early. For more party safe tips to share with your youth visit the Party Safer website and download the tip sheet

If you or your youth is questioning your relationship with substance use support is available. Visit:  

  •, a simple new single point of entry to eastern Ontario’s system of care for mental health and addictions
  • 1call1click.caa simple way for children, youth and families to access the right mental health and addiction care, at the right time.

and our Community Resource page for a complete list of resources


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