As the School year is coming to an end, Proms and Graduations are starting, and Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol would like to offer some tips to both parents and students as they attend these exciting events.

Tips for students to stay safe:

• Think responsibly: Don’t feel pressured to drink, smoke, or use drugs. It’s OK to say NO, even if others are participating. Think of what to say ahead of time in case you’re faced with those situations. Being prepared will help you to be better able to handle them if they arise. Be confident and be a positive leader. The decisions you make could affect the rest of your life.

• Travel safely: According to the Center for Disease Control, teenage drivers are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.

— Always wear a seat belt, no matter how short the trip

— Don’t drink and drive, and don’t get in a car with a driver who’s been drinking

— Don’t text or look at a text. It can wait

• Be alert: Dating violence is an issue. Abuse can be verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual. Know beforehand what your boundaries are and communicate those to your partner. Don’t be afraid to tell a family member, or friend, or call 911 if you or someone you know is abused or in danger.

Tips for parents to help keep their kids safe:

• Communicate: Establish reasonable ground rules. Know your child’s agenda for the evening, including whom they’ll be with and where they’ll be going to be. Come to a fair decision on a curfew.

— If students are not coming home right after an event, set up check-in times throughout the night and the following morning.

— Talk with other parents about the plans.

— Don’t rent hotel rooms for your kids unless you plan on supervising.

— Don’t purchase alcohol for anyone under 21. It’s illegal.

• Plan ahead: Parties should be supervised by a responsible adult. Adults should not let teens drink at home, even if no one plans to drive and keys are confiscated. Any present alcohol should be kept in a locked cabinet. Parents are criminally and civilly liable if they allow underage drinking to occur in their homes.

• Be available: Let students know they can call you at any time for help, advice, or a ride, with the promise to not shame or embarrass them in front of others.

“Proms and high school graduations are great for making memories, although everyone needs to make sure they’re not tragic memories caused by someone’s destructive decisions”, according to Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol. “Being proactive now will insure that there are no empty chairs at graduation time”.