Updated May 6, 2016

23 Prom Night Statistics Every Parent Should Read


We spend that much on prom night? Read on for 23 statistics every parent should read, including the dangers of prom night car accidents and date rape.

© St0rmz (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Prom is an important rite of passage for teenagers, but while they're dancing the night away, their parents are usually pacing the floors. Although prom culture has changed dramatically over the years, one thing remains the same: the number one priority for teens is having a good time. While some prefer to go low-key, others plan to celebrate in style - and there's usually a decent price tag attached. Whether you're a concerned parent or a teen who's counting down the days until the anticipated event, these 23 prom night statistics are guaranteed to make you think twice.

BREAKING DOWN THE COST

1. Going to prom is no low-budget affair

When it comes to the cost, prom night can put a decent pinch on your wallet. According to Visa's 2014 Prom Spending Survey, the average household spent $978 on prom-related expenses in 2014. While that seems steep, it's actually a drop of 14 percent over the previous year's average of $1,139.

2. Americans aren't the only ones who splurge

The Visa survey focused primarily on the amount Americans spend on the prom, but it also looked at what our neighbors to the north are shelling out. Surprisingly, Canadians actually spend about 25 percent less, averaging the equivalent of $723. In the U.K., lavish proms are becoming the norm, with parents spending £1,000 or more, which is roughly the equivalent of $1,500 in U.S. currency.

3. Where you live may determine how much you spend

Interestingly, geography appears to play a part in how much teens and their parents are willing to fork over for the big night. According to the Visa survey, families on the West Coast spend the most, averaging $1,125, while folks in the Midwest spend the least, totaling $835 on average.

4. And so does household income

Parents who bring home a bigger paycheck are more likely to have deeper pockets when it comes to prom spending. The 2014 Prom Spending Survey found that among households earning less than $50,000 a year, spending averaged just over $700. Parents who made over $50,000 gave their wallets more of a workout, spending an average of $1,151.

5. Parents aren't footing all of the bill

Parting with such a large amount of cash for a single night may be a strain budget-wise, but parents aren't necessarily footing the entire bill themselves. According to Visa, the parents surveyed planned to pay for 56 percent of prom costs, while teens were responsible for paying the remaining 44 percent. Strangely enough, parents under 40 years of age said they planned to spend nearly 30 percent more than older Moms and Dads.

6. Getting decked out eats up a big chunk of prom budgets

For girls, going to prom is all about the dress, and finding the perfect one at the right price is no easy task. A 2012 poll conducted by Seventeen magazine found that girls planned to spend $231 on average for a dress, not to mention another $45 for shoes and $23 for a handbag to go with it. Throw in $50 for hair styling, $32 for jewelry and $68 for nails and makeup, and you're already closing in on $500.

7. Girls aren't the only ones getting all dolled up

While guys typically spend less on prom clothing and accessories compared to girls, they're still paying a pretty penny to look their best. According to research from The Legacy Press, guys spent on average $184 for a tuxedo, $34 for a boutonnière and $64 for accessories to get ready for their 2013 prom.

8. Some dresses are more expensive than others

It's not unusual for girls to spend $200, $300 or even $400 on a prom dress, but there's one that carries a price tag that far outstrips the competition. Offered by the Philadelphia-based retailer Golden Asp, this diamond-encrusted creation designed by La Femme sells for a mere $13,997.

9. All those extras don't come cheap

While the dress tends to eat up the biggest chunk of prom budgets, there are lots of other costs that add up pretty quickly. The Legacy Press found that in 2013, prom attendees spent an average of $91 on the limo to get there, $58 on dinner beforehand, $156 on tickets and $164 for the after-prom party.

10. The prom industry is reaping the rewards

When you consider how much families are spending on average and the fact that there are roughly 40 million teens in the U.S., it's pretty obvious that the prom industry is raking in a substantial amount of revenue. Visa's 2012 Prom Spending Survey estimated its value at approximately $4 billion, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

THE DANGERS OF PROM NIGHT

© Chris Yarzab (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

11. Teens are more likely to be involved in a car accident

Accidents are the number one cause of death for young people aged 12 to 19, and those involving motor vehicles are the most common. Statistics show roughly a third of alcohol-related teen traffic fatalities occur between April and June, which is considered the peak of prom season.

12. Drug and alcohol use is more common than you think

For many students, prom is one of the highlights of their high school career but for others, it's an invitation to get intoxicated. An AAA survey of teens aged 16 to 19, published in February 2014, found that 41 percent said it was likely that they or their friends would use drugs or alcohol on prom night.

13. Would drive drunk after prom than call for help

Most teens learn about the perils of driving under the influence during Driver's Ed, but their fear of getting into trouble with their parents appears to outweigh the risk. According to AAA, 84 percent of teens surveyed said their friends would be more likely to get behind the wheel after drinking than to call home for a ride (if they believed they'd get in trouble for using alcohol). Another 22 percent said they'd ride in a car with someone who was impaired instead of calling their parents.

14. Many underestimate danger of driving while intoxicated

Despite the fact that more teens are involved in fatal traffic accidents related to alcohol during prom season, the majority of high school aged students don't seem to recognize how dangerous it actually is. A Liberty Mutual survey of nearly 2,300 juniors and seniors found that just 20 percent believe being on the roads on prom night is dangerous. Six percent of those surveyed admitted to driving under the influence after prom.

15. Mixed attitudes towards drinking and driving

Another study from Liberty Mutual examined teens' overall attitudes towards drinking and driving. The vast majority of teens surveyed, 86 percent, said that driving while under the influence was extremely distracting. On the other hand, 1 in 10 teens, who said they never drove under the influence, admitted to occasionally driving after drinking alcohol.

16. Heavy drinking on prom night is the norm for many students

Having just one or two drinks is bad enough, but the majority of teens are downing substantially more on prom night. According to Liberty Mutual, 54 percent of teens who admitted to drinking during or after the prom said they consumed four or more alcoholic beverages.

17. Peer pressure contributes to drug and alcohol use

Feeling accepted by your friends often leads teens to do things they normally wouldn't, including drinking or using drugs on prom night. Data from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Chrysler found that nearly 75 percent of teens felt pressured to use alcohol while another 49 percent said their friends encouraged them to try drugs during prom.

18. Parents are split on whether to allow drinking

Parents today face some unique challenges when it comes to how they raise their kids, and tackling the alcohol issue is definitely one of them. A survey conducted by PEMCO Insurance found that while 51 percent of adults said parents should forbid their child from going to an after-prom party where alcohol would be present, another 20 percent gave it the thumbs up as long as the event would be chaperoned.

19. But their influence counts with teens

Once kids hit the teenage years, they seem to tune out just about everything their parents have to say, but moms and dads can get through with a little persistence. According to another survey from MADD, teens whose parents view underage drinking as totally unacceptable are 80 percent less likely to drink compared to their peers whose parents are more lenient about it.

GETTING PERSONAL

© Maegan Tintari (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

20. Prom night isn't always an excuse to have sex

In movies and on TV, prom night is often portrayed as being a milestone of sorts for teens who are planning on getting intimate for the first time. According to a joint survey conducted by Seventeen magazine and Centers for Disease Control, that may not be the case. Of nearly 13,000 students who responded, just 5 percent of girls and 3 percent of boys said they lost their virginity after prom.

21. But girls have reason to be cautious

Numerous research efforts show that sexual violence involving teens is becoming increasingly common. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 1 in 5 female high school students is the victim of physical or sexual abuse at the hands of a date. While there are no hard numbers on the incidence of date rapes occurring on prom night, the risk of being victimized is almost certainly higher on prom night when alcohol is involved.

22. And protection is a must

In 2012, more than 300,000 girls aged 15 to 19 gave birth. When you consider this study, which found that the incidence of teen intercourse tends to be highest on Friday and Saturday nights during the spring season, it's a sobering reminder that prom attendees should be taking all the necessary precautions to prevent pregnancy.

23. There are other risks to keep in mind

Sexually transmitted diseases are becoming increasingly common among teens. In fact, the CDC estimates that nearly half of the 19 million new STD cases reported each year involve young people aged 15 to 24. Approximately 1 in 4 teens will contract a sexually transmitted disease or infection every year, and some of them will do so on prom night.

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