Drunk Teen's Death Shows State Knows More Than Parents

beerThe age-old argument over whether parents know their kids better than the state hit a major snag this week in New Mexico. A teenager whose parents allowed him to drink to the point of intoxication are being charged with the child abuse. Their son passed out and died 10 days after getting drunk with his stepmother and father. So much for kids being safer if they drink at home.


Police allege Joe Torres Sr., 39, and Heather Soto, 31, gave Joe's 15-year-old son, Joe Jr., beer and a wine/brandy mixer before he passed out. Doctors aren't sure what caused his death, but toxicology showed the boy also had opiates in his system when he was brought into the hospital. There's no evidence the parents knew about or gave the child opiates. But with a history of drug abuse -- including several stints in rehab -- the police say the child was a time bomb waiting to go off ... and his parents lit the fuse. Combined with the fact that kids aren't legally able to drink in New Mexico until age 21, they've now been charged with intentional child abuse resulting in death and negligent child abuse resulting in death.

Put all the facts together, and this isn't your typical "Mom's having a margarita, so she pours the rest of the slush from the blender into a small cup for Junior." Most 15-year-olds haven't been to rehab. And most teenagers aren't consuming opiates.

But the family's attitude is one you hear all the time. "If my kid is going to do X, I'd rather they do it at home because I can keep them safer than their friends would." Sex. Drinking. Suddenly, just because Torres and Soto have a drug-addicted teen, they're not much different from the parents who send the kids downstairs for a rager because "at least no one's driving." And now you understand why those parents face the law for doing what they think is "the right thing to do."

The notion that risky behavior is somehow less risky because it's under the watchful eyes of responsible adults is a dangerous one. As this child's opiate abuse proves, it comes with the caveat that you know that your kids are being 100 percent honest with you about what's in their system. But even beyond that: drinking to excess is still drinking to excess. Whether it's in your basement or at a frat party, it comes with it the risk of alcohol poisoning, seizures, even death.

Maybe the state really does know a little more about your kids than you do. Do you let your kids get drunk at home?


Image via Green Colander/Flickr

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