Is prom night the most important evening of the year for a high school student? Or is the high school prom an unnecessary event that ought to be abolished? Or is the truth somewhere between the two?
There are a variety of attitudes toward high school proms. Many high school students devote a lot of time, money, and effort toward making prom night a special once in a lifetime event. Some rent limousines and tuxedos, buy special dresses, rent hotel rooms for after the prom, etc.
On the other hand, many students consider proms a negative thing and do not even attend their high school prom. Personally, I never attended my high school's prom and don't regret my decision.
Some conservative religious groups oppose proms for religious reasons, such as opposing dancing and rock music. Heritage Christian School in Findlay, Ohio made news headlines this week for its plans to suspend a student if he attended a prom at another school, as mentioned in the May 8, 2009 article on the
Findlay, Ohio Courier's web site linked to here1, and the Associated Press article on MSNBC's web site linked to here2, among other sources. A copy of a letter the school gave to parents of students Friday, May 8 explaining its decision is located on the school's web site and linked to here.3
But, even within the Christian and Islamic faiths there are a variety of individual views. The examples above are not intended to be representative of all Christians or all Muslims.
There are a lot of traditions associated with a high school prom (sometimes called a junior-senior prom). I won't go into them, but the basics about proms are discussed in the Wikipedia article linked to here.5
What do parents worry about? The FamilyEducation.com website notes that on prom night parents worry about "the risky behaviors associated with proms, most specifically driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and unsafe sex" according to the article linked to here.6 Due to the large number of problems that often occur at informal events after the prom, many groups organize after prom events to provide a safer alternative.
Personally, I think there are safer, better things to do than attend a prom. Far too many young people seem to risk their entire futures for the sake of one prom night. But, I realize that for many others prom night is treasured as the most enjoyable and memorable event of their lives up to that point.
I hope those who attend proms this year enjoy a safe, fun time without endangering their lives through casual sex, alcohol abuse, or other risky behaviors. Enjoyable fun does not need to involve major risk taking.
Endnotes: URLs for all web pages linked to in the article
(All links were retrieved from the web pages on May 9, 2009, EDT)
1 http://www.thecourier.com/Issues/2009/May/08/ar_news_050809_story3.asp?d=050809_story3,2009,May,08&c=n "Don't go to prom, school tells teen," by Mary Kate Malone, May 8, 2009, Findlay, Ohio Courier web site
2 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30644348/ "Christian school tells boy to skip prom," updated 1:46 p.m. ET, May 8, 2009, Associated Press article on MSNBC.com web site.
3 http://www.heritagefindlay.org/index.cfm?i=6416&mid=1000&id=199128 "TODAY'S NEWS," May 8, 2009, Heritage Christian School of Findlay, Ohio's web site
4 http://www.soundvision.com/info/teens/teen.promproblems.asp "The Prom: Not Just One Night of Haram," by Samana Siddiqui, (possibly written in 1995 based on dates internal in article), SoundVision.com's web site
5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prom "Prom," May 9, 2009, Wikipedia web site
6 http://life.familyeducation.com/teen/prom/36549.html "Prom Safety," by Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW, (date unknown), FamilyEducation.com web site