Teen drinking

Friday, June 22, 2007

Stories about minors who participate in drinking parties come and go. But these stories are generally written only when law enforcement officers step in. There are countless such gatherings for teenagers that never make headlines.

In almost every case, these parties involve adults, sometimes young adults and sometimes parents of the partying teens. There is a long tradition of parent-sponsored parties for teenage revelers, and in spite of deaths and serious injuries related to the abuse of alcohol by minors, parents still rationalize that what they are doing is safer that having their youngsters drink without supervision.

A group in Scott County would like to change attitudes about these parties, which have a social cachet in Southeast Missouri and which are often viewed as a legitimate rite of passage even when such parties are clear violations of the law.

Perhaps the group that will be hardest to convince is parents. As long as parents continue to argue that it's OK and in the best interests of youngsters to chaperone drinking parties, there will be more violations of the law.

Teens, even those who have been handed a high school diploma, need guidance. They need to be educated about the dangers of over-indulging. And they need for their parents to behave like grownups and make grownup decisions.

Parents who want their children to be responsible adults and make responsible decisions about alcoholic beverages will have plenty of opportunities to teach -- by example.

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