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West Des Moines Police and Local Coalition Collaborate to Keep Your Students Safe

BeAwareLogoThe West Des Moines Police Department and the Substance Abuse Prevention Community Coalition (SAPCC) are partnering to keep students safe this prom and graduation season. Prom and graduation are special events for the youth in our community, but both are also times that teens need guidance and support from their parents or guardians, other adults, and the community. The heightened expectations that accompany prom and graduation, along with the normal social pressures teens face, often lead to increased alcohol use and other risky behaviors.

According to the 2014 Iowa Youth Survey, nearly 40 percent of 11th-grade West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) students believe they will be more popular if they drink alcohol. Nearly 40 percent said that it is not against their values to use alcohol or drugs as a teenager. Three out of five students also said that alcohol is easy or really easy to obtain in our community, with parties, friends (older and younger than 21), and parents being the most common sources of alcohol. Most teens do identify their parents as the No. 1 influence in their decision about whether or not to drink alcohol, and nearly 75 percent of WDMCS 11th-graders said their parents would consider it wrong for them to attend a party with underage drinking. Underage drinking is not only a youth issue. Parents, guardians and other adults can be part of the solution.

To keep teens in the community safe during prom and graduation, parents and guardians can follow these tips:

  • Discuss the rules for celebrating. Talk about your rules, the school rules, and the consequences for violating those rules.
  • Know the plan for the entire evening, including who your teens will be with, where they will be going, and how they will be getting there. Establish check-in times and make sure their phones are fully charged.
  • Communicate with other parents about the prom or graduation plans. Teen safety is more likely when parents work together.
  • Emphasize that your teen should never get in a vehicle with a driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If your teen will be riding in a limo or other hired transportation, be sure to find out about their alcohol policy.
  • If you are hosting a post-prom or graduation party, remember that it is illegal to serve alcohol to minors or to allow them to drink alcohol in your home. A violation of the Social Host Ordinance in West Des Moines is punishable by a $500.00 fine.
  • If you are hosting a party, take inventory of the alcohol in your home and secure it. Remember, their own home is one of the easiest places for teens to get alcohol.
  • Avoid rented hotel rooms or other destinations that will not have responsible adult supervision.
  • Be available all night, so your child can contact you at any time and remove themselves from an uncomfortable situation.
  • Encourage your child to have a wonderful, memorable, and safe evening!

You can find additional information and parent resources on the SAPCC website at, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.