Preparing for Homecoming meant doing some serious research for the mother of the Homecoming King of a large high school in an upper-middle class suburb of Los Angeles. Her 17-year-old son wanted to go out to dinner, sharing a limousine with the members of his court. She agreed but was very involved in helping the kids plan their evening.
First, Mom located a family-owned limousine business that used only very experienced drivers (no journeymen.) Second, she reviewed the limousine company's "contract" that each passenger was required to sign. The contract clearly stated that neither alcohol nor drugs were allowed to be used in the vehicle, and that noncompliance of any kind would result in confiscation of the banned substance and also in the limousine ride being cut short with no refund. Finally, Mom personally spoke with each teen to confirm they understood the contract and the consequences, and she added one more of her own: If anyone was found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, she would personally speak to their parent(s). Now that's a threat with teeth!
The result? Well, Mom got a call at about 11:30 P.M. from the limousine driver who said he had found alcoholic beverages in the vehicle after dropping off the kids at a restaurant. One of the passengers had brought a cooler into the limo that contained some malt liquor bottles. The driver informed Mom that he was sorry, but he was going to have to cut the evening short and bring the kids home immediately, per the contract. Mom thanked him for doing his job, and the kids were returned home safely.
After he got home, Mom spoke with her son about the incident. He accepted responsibility even though he was not the one who had brought the alcohol on board. He said everyone in the limo knew what was in the cooler but they did nothing to stop it. They thought they would get away with it because they were discrete. Those that didn't plan on partaking felt it wasn't their place to stop the others.
The good news is that parental advance planning and involvement actually worked the way it was supposed to. None of the kids got drunk nor high. No one got sick or suffered a hangover. The teens all learned a lesson by having their evening cut short. Each of them had chipped in for the limo, so there was an economic consequence as well.
The bad news is that even the brightest and most responsible kids in the bunch felt compelled to allow their friends to put their entire evening in jeopardy. It's called peer pressure, pure and simple.
So know who your teen's friends are. Get involved in planning these kinds of outings. If your child gets home earlier than expected, find out what happened. And if they leave for the dance with a cooler, you'd better check that out.