Safe choices for students during prom season

By Morgan McKinniss -

BIDWELL — River Valley juniors and seniors received a healthy reminder of the importance of decision making during the prom season. Reggie Robinson from Health Recovery Services made a presentation with one big idea: stop and think.

“I’m sure you’ve already heard a lot of people talking to you about your life and you’re decisions, and I’m another one. I don’t know how to differentiate myself from them other than to say that the message is so important it’s worth telling you multiple times,” said Robinson. “We’re talking about nothing less important than your life and your future. If I could say one thing to you that you remember from today it is this, stop and think.”

Robinson is a substance abuse prevention specialist and spends his time educating young people about the harms of substance abuse and wrong choices in their life. Part of his work is helping students make wise decisions during the prom season, which is often associated with injuries and accidents resulting from students making poor decisions.

“One wrong decision can cost you something that you do not want to give up, something as precious as your life,” said Robinson. “I’ve done this for 30 years, I’m 63 years old, I’m a father, I’m a grandfather, and now I’m a great grandfather, and I have never seen what we have today as far as the alcohol and drug abuse problem.”

Robinson’s presentation with the students revolved around two main areas that affects students; abusing drugs and alcohol and driving while distracted. According to Robinson, someone is killed in a motor vehicle accident involving a drunk driver every 40 minutes on average. In 2015, over 10,000 people died in alcohol related crashes, comprising one third of the total crashes in the United States.

“I have never gone to so many funerals of young people in my life. The age of first use of any kind of intoxicant is 12, and that’s going down,” said Robinson. “This year we are treating two eight year olds for addiction to heroin. These kids were shooting heroin multiple times a day.”

Not only is substance abuse increasing as a problem with young people, so is driving while distracted. According to Robinson, texting and driving related deaths and injuries have become an increasingly serious issue.

“Distracted driving has gone up exponentially in the past several years to the point where deaths and injuries rival those of impaired driving, especially those of your age group,” said Robinson. “Stop and think doesn’t just apply to not being impaired, it also applies to not being distracted.”

Local law enforcement is also getting involved in helping keep kids safe during prom.

“Our law enforcement community will be out throughout the prom season to ensure that our youth is safe. The Gallia County Sheriff’s Office has made contributions to support after prom activities throughout the county in hopes that our young adults will take advantage of these opportunities,” said Gallia Sheriff Matt Champlin. “We ask that everyone enjoying the prom this season will make responsible decisions to keep themselves and others safe.”

By Morgan McKinniss

Reach Morgan

Reach Morgan