Use the information and resources below to help ensure everyone has fun and stays safe at prom, graduation and other parties any time of year. You can also download Toronto Public Health’s Safer Partying Toolkit (also available in French) to share with school teachers, staff, students and parents/caregivers.
Tips for Teens
Prom and Safer Partying
Here are some tips to help you have fun at parties and make informed choices:
- Follow the rules set by your school/prom committee.
- Have a ‘Party Partner’. This is a trusted friend that will: be around for the whole party, be responsible for you and you for them, step in if something is happening that doesn’t seem right, and make sure you both get home safely.
- Share your plans with your parent/caregiver or a trusted adult: where you are going, who you are going with and when you’ll return.
- Trust your gut. You can always choose to leave a party if you feel uncomfortable, or if it gets out of control. Do not leave a party with someone you just met, or barely know.
- Keep your fully charged cell phone on you. If you can, take extra money with you in case you need it for unexpected situations.
- Keep an eye on your drink and never leave it unattended.
- Keep emergency numbers on hand. If someone passes out, do not leave them alone. Call 911 right away for emergencies.
- Take the PROMise Pledge (also available in French) and see Toronto Public Health’s Safer Partying Tip Sheet (also available in French).
Alcohol and Other Drug Use
You don’t need to drink alcohol or use drugs to enjoy yourself at a party! If you choose to consume, follow these tips to reduce your risks:
- Make a plan, set limits, and stick to it. If you don’t plan to use substances, don’t let your peers influence you.
- Avoiding alcohol and other drug use is the safest way to celebrate. It is illegal for individuals under 19 years of age to use and possess alcohol and other drugs.
- If you choose to drink alcohol:
- Alternate having an alcoholic drink and water.
- Keep track of your intake and drink slowly.
- Eat before you drink, and while you are drinking.
- Know your limit, and stay below it. Do not let others push you beyond it.
- Watch your drink so that no one can slip anything into it when you’re not looking.
- If you choose to smoke cannabis:
- Start low and go slow.
- Avoid inhaling deeply or holding your breath. These can increase the amount of toxins absorbed by your lungs and the rest of your body, and can lead to lung problems.
- Avoid using multiple substances together. This can increase your impairment and chances of overdose, accidents, and injuries.
- Get more information from the Canadian Association for Mental Health (CAMH)’s Partying and Getting Drunk and Lower-Risk Cannabis Guidelines for Youth webpages.
Sadly, impaired driving happens. Alcohol is involved in almost 1/3 of teenage car accident fatalities. Don’t crash your memories on prom night or other celebrations. Make a plan to get home safely:
- Always plan a safe ride home, especially if you are consuming substances. Ask a responsible friend or family member, use the TTC trip planner, or use a taxi or rideshare service.
- You could also arrange to walk with a sober buddy, get someone you trust to pick you up or stay overnight where you will be drinking. If you decide to walk with a sober buddy, make sure you stay visible to other road users, and on a well-lit route.
- Never drink and drive and don’t get a ride from someone who you think may be drunk or high. Don’t let someone who has been using alcohol or other drugs get behind the wheel.
- If you are driving:
- Drive sober: it is illegal to drink and drive. Plan another way home.
- Avoid distractions: turn off your phone, or put in on silent mode before you get in the car.
- Watch your speed: the faster you drive, the higher the risk of losing control and causing serious or fatal harm.
- Stay alert: prom and after-parties can often end very late. Avoid driving if you are feeling drowsy.
- Buckle up: always wear your seatbelt and ask passengers to do the same.
Take steps to protect yourself and others:
- Only a sober “yes” means yes. Always get consent – consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity.
- Know and respect each other’s boundaries. If you decide to engage in sex or other intimate activities, it needs to be fully consensual.
- Use safer sex tools such as condoms, dams and gloves. Talk to your partner(s) before having sex about using them.
- You can always say no to a kiss, a touch, or whatever, even if you said yes before. Never feel obligated to do more with someone if you don’t feel right or comfortable. Be clear with your partner(s) about your limits.
- Sex is not the only way to be intimate. Activities like talking, listening, holding hands, and spending time together can also build closeness.
- If you see someone that may be at risk for sexual assault intervene if you can do so safely or call for help.
- Get support: contact Kids Help Phone or the Women’s College Hospital Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre (SA/DVCC).
- Learn more about preventing sexual violence from White Ribbon and Toronto Public Health’s Protect Yourself from Sexual Violence Tip Sheet (also available in French).
Tips for Parents/Caregivers
Prom and Safer Partying
Here are some talking points to help you and your teen prepare before they head out:
- Know your teen’s plans. This includes knowing where they will be, who they will be with and how they will be getting home.
- Offer non-judgemental support to get them home safely. Stress to your teen to never get in a car with a driver who has been using alcohol or other drugs.
- Set a curfew with your teen. Be open to negotiating limits, family rules and consequences.
- Discuss having a ‘Party Partner’. A trusted friend that will: be around for the whole night, be responsible for each other, step in if something is happening that doesn’t seem right, and makes sure they both get home safely.
- Make sure they carry a cell phone and that it’s charged and turned on. If you can, provide transportation money in case of emergency.
- Discuss the importance of calling 911 for emergencies. Tell your teen to get help and to not hesitate calling 911 if someone’s health and safety is at risk.
- Take the parents’ party pledge… “I promise you the unconditional option of calling me at any time for help or advice. That includes picking you up at any time of the day or night, with a promise not to shame or embarrass you in front of others. I always welcome the chance of being part of your smart and safe decisions.“
- Talk to school staff/other parents on how to ensure prom activities will be safe.
- See the Parent Action Pack Booklet for stats, facts and more talking points, and Toronto Public Health’s How to Talk To Your Teen About Prom Tip Sheet (also available in French).
Hosting a Party
If you plan to host a party for your teen, there are steps you can take to make it fun and safe:
- Talk to your school, community, and other parents about their experiences.
- Organize alcohol-free activities, such as dancing, games and contests to keep guests entertained.
- Provide lots of snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. See MADD’s website for alcohol-free mocktail recipes.
- Consider setting a guest limit to keep the party manageable.
- Keep emergency numbers on hand. If someone passes out despite your precautions, do not leave them alone. Call 911 right away for emergencies.
- Know the law and your liability. It is illegal to serve alcohol to anyone under 19 and to let minors drink. If an adult provides alcohol and/or other drugs to someone who is underage, they can be held responsible for what happens to them.
- Save a life, carry naloxone. Make sure there is a naloxone kit on hand.
Alcohol and Other Drug Use
It’s important to talk to your teen about alcohol and other drug use. Here are some tips on how you can support good decision-making and reduce their health risks:
- Talk often and openly with your teen about alcohol and other drugs. Be approachable, and non-judgemental.
- Set a good example. The best way to teach your kids about responsible drinking is to lead by example.
- Set rules about alcohol and make sure your teen knows them. Keep track of how much alcohol is in your home, and put bottles safely away after use.
- Be approachable. Let your teen know they can depend on you for help if they are worried about their own, or someone else’s safety.
- Remind them to always keep an eye on their drink to make sure nothing is slipped into it.
- Recognize mistakes happen. Teen’s brains are still developing, especially areas of impulse control. Knowing this may help you better understand why they take risks.
- Help reflect. You can help your teen reflect on a mistake and turn it into a learning opportunity. Ensure you are both calm and ready to discuss the situation or problem rationally.
- Stay informed. You don’t need to be an expert, but knowing the latest evidence on alcohol/other drugs will help you support your teen to make better decisions.
- Learn more by checking out the following resources:
Here are some tips to help ensure your teen arrives safely at parties and back home:
- Plan a safe ride home. Talk to your teen about their plans to get to/from home. Talk to other parents about designating a driver. If your teen is hiring a limo with friends, make sure the company does not tolerate drinking in the car.
- Set expectations: if your teen is planning to drive, talk to them about safe driving.
- Make back-up plans. Discuss other options such as taking a taxi, spending the night, or having a designated driver. Let them know, no matter what, safety comes first and they can call you at any time for a safe ride home.
- Lead by example: parents/caregivers often drive their teens to various places. Take these opportunities to set a good example by wearing your seat belt, removing distractions, and always obeying traffic laws.
- Share the laws: make sure your teen knows the serious risks and penalties associated with impaired driving with alcohol and other drugs. See the Ministry of Transportation for more information.
- Get more information from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada).
Parents/caregivers play an important role in preventing sexual violence. Talking with teens about consent, sexuality and relationships can help them make more informed, mature decisions:
- Only a sober “yes” means yes. Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity.
- Sex, or any other intimate activity, needs to be fully consensual. Participants must be awake, conscious and sober enough to make a clear decision.
- Make sure your teen knows and respects boundaries – their own and others.
- For more information, see White Ribbon’s website and the Ontario Ministry of Health’s Talking with your teen about sexuality.
Information for School Staff
Get tips and information on how you can help students celebrate more safely:
Prom and Safer Partying
- Share messages on social media accounts managed by your school and school committees (the target audience for these accounts can be both students and parents).
- Share messages during morning announcements. You can also let students take the lead on promoting messages during these announcements.
- Get involved in planning prom and provide guidance to students when needed. Be present during prom night to chaperone students. Some schools get involved by planning “prom to dawn” events.
- Share resources and services for students such as:
Tools and Resources