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Being the 'cool' parent isn't cool, it's reckless

 

Last updated 12/11/2008 at Noon



In early November, a Riverside area newspaper published a story about an intoxicated 16-year-old boy who was sprayed with a flammable liquid while lying passed out on a couch at a party. He was then set ablaze by other partygoers.

Several people put the flames out and someone drove the boy to the emergency room at Redlands Community Hospital at 4 a.m. He had serious burns to his face and hands. Two young men, ages 16 and 19, were taken into custody.

Most parents would never buy their kid a six-pack and look the other way, but the minority who do make it dangerous for all of us.

Intoxication lowers inhibitions and can lead to physical aggression, unwanted sexual encounters, injuries, motor vehicle accidents, death… and evidently, even being set on fire by two yahoos.

Too many parents have a fatalistic attitude and think because their teen is spending his or her Friday night drinking at a friend’s house, there’s “nothing they can do about it.”

Many parents even believe that if an adult is present at these parties it is legal for teens to drink.

In 2005, the American Medical Association found that more than 40 percent of teens said parents were usually present at parties where alcohol was consumed by under-age kids.

More than 15 percent said the alcohol was provided by the parents themselves; more than 65 percent of teens say their older brothers and sisters regularly bought alcohol for them.

Across the country, however, it is illegal to provide alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. Adults who ignore this face fines of more than $1,000 and up to a year in jail.

On Oct. 21 Trevor Guthrie, a resident of Hamilton County in Northern California, was arrested after two teens who had become intoxicated at a party in his house were involved in a car crash. The driver was injured and his passenger died.

Guthrie, who supplied the teens with beer at a party, now faces charges of reckless homicide, felony reckless endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Some parents serve alcohol to teens at birthday parties, graduation parties and post-prom bashes. They put their own children and every teen at that party at risk for injury, assault and even death.

The parents who want their kids to drink at home don’t seem to realize that the other kids have to drive home and will be drunk when they do so.

When it comes to modeling responsibility and following the law, parents need to step up to the plate and set a good example.

Explain to your kids why they can’t drink alcohol. When your teen has plans to go to a party, call the parents and ask if alcohol will be provided.

If they hedge even a little bit, put your foot down with your kid and let her know these parties are off-limits.

If you believe a neighbor is making alcohol available to underage drinkers, call 9-1-1 and report him or her. The police will take it from there. We owe it our kids and our community.

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