High School Graduation: A Right-Of-Passage

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By Bill Hanks

youngdrinkOver the next month, thousands of students will celebrate the beginning of adulthood as they graduate from high school. These teens will experience a multitude of life transitions in the coming years, including marriage, children, divorce, new jobs and job loss. Bill Hanks, author of “Serenity: It’s a God Deal” ~ (finding your way to sobriety, sanity and serenity), says graduation is a critical and opportune time for parents to provide their children the tools necessary to safely handle those future life transitions.

An estimated 650 high school seniors meet an early death during the graduation season each year due to drugs and alcohol, and unfortunately many of those cases could have been prevented with a discussion between parent and graduate regarding prom and graduation night expectations and the hard facts. Hanks recommends the following:

1. Make sure your teen has a plan for the evening of graduation and you know what that plan is, i.e., dinner, commencement and after-graduation parties.

2. Discuss not only the school’s rules for commencement, but also the laws regarding underage drinking with your teen and the consequences of violating them.

3. Know who is driving. Consider an adult driver to chauffeur.

4. Discuss curfew and plan to stay up for the new graduate’s return. Let them know you will be waiting.

5. If your teen is going to several destinations, have them call upon each arrival.

6. Give your teen the unconditional option of calling you at anytime for help or advice.

7. Do not rent hotel rooms for party-goers.

8. Re-visit the family’s existing rules on drinking, drugging, driving under the influence and sex.

9. Have your teen read and sign a sober contract, The Graduation Pledge.

10. Tell them how proud you are, how much you love and trust them, and to have a wonderful time (hugs are always good).

According to CollegeDrinkingPrevention.org, an estimated 1,700 college students will die each year of alcohol-related, unintentional injuries, including alcohol poisoning. Ensure your child doesn’t become part of that statistic by talking to them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

The Graduation Pledge

“I can have a positive influence on my life and the lives of my friends. My decisions are my own. And they are responsible ones. That’s why I have decided to be safe and sober. So whether or not I go to out to celebrate my graduation, I promise not to use alcohol or other drugs. This is a promise I take seriously. It’s one I intend to keep, for my sake and the sake of my friends and family. I’m signing it. I mean it. I’m keeping it.”

Bill Hanks is the author of a self-help memoir titled “Serenity: It’s a God Deal” ~ (finding your way to sobriety, sanity, and serenity). Hanks is a recently retired 25-year veteran of Wall Street. In 1996, he recognized a problem with drugs and alcohol and subsequently checked himself into a treatment center. More than 17 years later, Hanks has worked with approximately 15,000 patients in recovery by voluntarily teaching weekly classes at various Tulsa treatment facilities. He also brings awareness programs to churches and schools in an effort to reach out to younger generations. His motto: “I would much rather deploy ‘prevention factors’ now versus ‘damage control’ later.”