It's an all-too-familiar story. Teenager gets some freedom. Teenager gets drunk. Teenager dies from alcohol poisoning while his helpless friends watch.
This is what happens when we make kids so scared of getting caught with alcohol that they’re terrified to calls us when something goes wrong. This is what Brett Finbloom's family is living with today. They were supposed to be saying goodbye as he left for college. Instead they're saying goodbye forever. And it all could have been prevented with just one phone call ... if only the teenagers in that room weren't terrified that they were going to get in trouble.
Parents! If this isn't a sign that we need to change the whole discussion about alcohol, I don't know what is.
Ironically, Brett’s friends needn’t have worried about getting in trouble. They live in Indiana, a state where an underage drinker who calls for assistance for a friend is given full immunity from prosecution. The law protects the intoxicated kid as long as they wait for police to arrive -- essentially making sure the cops actually find their friends in time.
The law is a nice idea, and it should be spread to other states. But frankly parents shouldn’t need lawmakers to tell them that they should cut their kids a break when they call them drunk.
I’m not stupid. I don't want my kid going out and getting drunk, but face it: it's more or less a teenage rite of passage. Some 72 percent of teenagers admit they've consumed alcohol. Sure, your kid could be in that 28 percent, but do you really want to chance it?
We need to make the conversation less about “OMG, if I ever catch you, I’m going to kill you” and more about responsibility, more about safety. Kids shouldn't be so terrified of getting in trouble over a few cans of beer that they get behind the wheel after a few too many and drive their car straight into a tree. Kids shouldn't be so terrified of calling their parents and admitting they've gotten a little hammered that they let their friend die.
What have you told your kids you will do if you catch them drinking?
Image via stevendepolo/Flickr