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Staying safe at graduation celebrations

Grad%20safety.jpgPhoto via iStock

With many graduation events, trips and parties planned in the coming weeks, students and parents are urged to be aware of what’s planned, who is involved, and take precautions to ensure celebrations are safe.

Whether students go camping for a few nights or stay local with a night out, it’s important they plan ahead for their own safety in case something goes wrong or they end up in an unsafe environment.

“We want to make sure people are being safe in terms of where they are going, if there is cell reception, making sure there are safe rides available, and that there is some safety planning prior to leaving,” said Sarah McKay, manager of Safe Schools. “You want to make sure you know how you’re getting home safely and who you can call if something doesn’t go right.

“All of this is to protect our students and families and really end the school year, after a really challenging two years, on a good note for everybody.”

McKay said students should also ensure they’re respectful of the property being used and remember they are representing their schools, the district and their families in how they participate.

And, she added, parents and guardians should never be concerned about coming off as nagging – “Nagging is caring” – but should come from a place of understanding and make it clear their children can call them if celebrations become unsafe. She recommends parents encourage an open dialogue and talk to their teens about celebrating safely, without being afraid to ask tough questions such as:

  • Who’s going to be there?
  • Will there be adults?
  • What sort of party/trip is this?
  • Will there be drugs or alcohol?

“The more parents know, the fewer surprises there are and the more honest communication there can be if something were to go wrong,” she said. “This is an opportunity for some real open dialogue around trust and the circumstances that can sometimes happen at end-of-year events.

“We want everyone to understand that this is a time to celebrate and come together with an agreement on what will be appropriate and what will be okay.”

Students should not hesitate to reach out to local authorities like the Surrey RCMP if a celebration goes sideways, or report unsafe activity through the Protecting Surrey Schools Together (PSST) website if there are concerns around trips, parties or other activities.

“We want to make sure that there’s a real overall awareness of the variables that can be controlled when celebrating graduating and really focus on not putting a damper on the end of a successful high school career for students,” McKay said.

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