Fort Mill Times

Program allows parents to text their teens on prom night

Attention parents.

Looking for a cool way to keep up with your prom-going, graduation and summer celebrating teens?

Look no further than the nearest Internet connection.

Crank up the computer or Internet-enabled cell phone and go to allonboard.org. That's where you can find more than 10 text messages that you can send to your teens while they're celebrating.

The text message campaign kicks off April 21.

"We want parents talking to kids using some of the same tools that kids use to talk to each other," said Jane Alleva, community relations and prevention director of Keystone Substance Services. "Texting is often how kids communicate."

And it's how Alleva and others with Keystone want parents to stay in touch during prom and graduation season -- a high-risk time of the year.

"There's a lot of fun things going on with prom, spring, spring break and graduation," Alleva said. "That opens the door for bad choices."

Parents are encouraged to talk to their children at home about their decisions and relative consequences. And when teens leave home, parents can connect with them via the text message campaign, Alleva said.

"It's an opportunity for a parent to remind their child to make good choices," she said. "The goal is to make good choices on evenings out when bad choices are tempting them."

The text message campaign is an initiative of York County All On Board, a community coalition that includes teens, parents and local leaders whose primary focus is to work to combat underage drinking and other substance abuse.

To that end, the text message campaign debuted at the onset of last year's prom season.

"Last year, we did it for a short time and only offered one message," Alleva said. "Approximately 1,000 text messages were sent nightly during each prom in York County."

This year, parents have their choice of 16 text messages. It's as simple as going to allonboard.org, typing in the child's name and cell phone number and clicking the desired message and its intended time of receipt. Moderately concerned messages range from, "Hey. What's up? Give me a call when you get a minute," and "Hi. Where are you? Let me know. Thanks."

More proactive text messages enforce making wise choices. Two such messages note, "Remember your commitment to stay drug-and alcohol-free. I'm counting on you" and "Just a quick reminder to make good decisions tonight. I love you."

The end result is communication, Alleva said.

"Research tells us if parents us connect with their kids, they will make better choices," Alleva said.

The text message campaign runs through the summer.

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