This entry was first released at Norristown.Patch.com, part of the AOL Family. (Link)
I worked the late shift security for the Methacton's After-Prom this weekend. When I reported in, the buzz was a large number of kids didn't make it to the Prom because a parent rented a bus after allowing kids access to booze.
I saw my kid at the After Prom and he told me about a few kids who were fall-down drunk. The cops clipped them at the prom.
Ok, alcohol consumption is against the law. Personally, I think it is a stupid law, but kids are going to get swept up in this. Lawyers and the Justice System will get a payday. The kids will get racked up with records that will hold them back. And the idiot Uptight Parents Brigade (UPB) will get to click their tongues.
The local paper has been championing one such idiot who wants all the kids' names in public - just to make them feel worse. Maybe this person needs to feel morally superior. The funny thing is this parent's identity is being shielded behind the reporter's skirt. The reporter is giving this UPB member their secrecy. But that doesn't stop this person from whining that this is the somehow the worst prom they have ever seen. (I guess this person is lucky they haven't heard about the Prom Night tragedies that were the impetus for holding an After-Prom).
Meanwhile, another UPB idiot is talking to every camera that will power on. This one is putting her kid out there as some shining example. It is the same story - these kids have to be punished and their names exposed. The irony is the second UPB Member ran for school board and got trounced. In this case, the voters could not be more right in their assessments. I feel sorry for the kid.
Also - when you trot your kid out there, you are tempting Karma. Most parents of kids from about age 13 to 24 hold their collective breaths. Parents with sense whisper the phrase, "There but for the grace of God..." when something stupid happens.
When something stupid does happen - you don't need some UPB squawking about how you raise your kid.
The school so far is acting responsibly and intelligent in the face of these UPB's. Hey are giving no information out. It should stay that way.
Kids are stupid. It is axiomatic. It's nothing personal against your kid. In fact, we all go through that stage in life where we do stupid stuff. That's how we make our transition to being 'grown-ups'. That is why we used to have rules protecting kids from adult punishment. We don't have that anymore.
Kids test their limits. Every child is parentally guided on this transition from toddler to self-sufficient differently. It is growth for a parent too.
Anyone who has a clue knows that Proms will have booze. I am not excusing it - it is just a fact. The UPB's have forgotten what it was like to be a kid.
I am not going to directly excuse the kids who messed-up. They messed-up. I just think the penalties are too much for the kids.
I am sure the parent who ran this stunt will end up doing time. (So much for having at least a little sense to rent a bus to keep the compromised kids from getting behind a wheel.)
The kids messed-up in part because our society has messed up. To any post-boomer, the movie Dazed and Confused is our American Graffiti. It accurately reflects what it was like to be 15 in the mid-70's. (I was 15 in '76.) None of these UPB members can remember what they did. I guess the nastiest of them never got to do anything and are compensating.
It's not just the local Methacton UPB's, it is all the Law-and-Order types who take discretion out of the hands of Judges. If you are going to elect and pay someone based on their wisdom - let them use it.
I am not calling for the kids to get off scuff-free. But a record to trail them around for life when they are not out of high school yet is unfair - especially for a first offender. Messing up college for them - NO! Holding them back from Graduation? What does that really do? It puts a bad taste in the kid's mouth for good as the last high school experience.
But, it will make the hyper-punitive happy - and they are the ones who scream the loudest. Meanwhile the rest of us who worry and know moderation is the key in anything remain quiet. We can't seem to stand up to these people.
Instead of being punitive, why don't we get to the cores of the problem? There is nothing wrong with putting kids in a class to help them reflect on what any addiction (booze, drugs, gambling, etc.) can do. There is nothing wrong with getting some free labor for the community out of these kids via a service term. It would be a good thing to assign a stint at a rehab hospital where people recovering from DUI accidents are paying the real price for stupidity are healing. Scared Straight can work.
An unintended consequence of this may show up next year. If kids are going to feel pressured and hassled about the prom, maybe they don't go? Maybe some kids get tuned up in the parking lot and instead of going into a Prom where they'll get hassled, they stay behind the wheel for something worse. The whole point of the After Prom was to get the kids off the street after the Prom so there won't be tragedy.
You can accuse me of being soft on this topic, but if a kid has a problem with drugs or booze, I would rather see them inside on Prom night where they can be looked after and helped - not punished. Sometimes we have to have a No Questions attitude instead of a Zero Tolerance policy.
Here are some ironies. Many of the seniors (who don't get totally jammed up over this) will become college freshmen next year. Some will be going to schools participating in the Amethyst Initiative.
"The Amethyst Initiative (Link) supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age."
Many of these signatory schools turn a blind eye to drinking in campus dorm rooms. Hmmm.
How about the military? Are they seriously carding 18 year-olds in uniform? Be real.
What the state and federal legislatures have done is bred contempt into the system. Laws about booze need to change. We are giving quazi-adults (18-21 year-olds) full adult punishments and records. The whole point of not having adult rules on kids is that they can't handle them.
If we as a society are saying that kids in this age group can't handle their liquor, why are we punishing them as if they can?