Teenagers and alcohol.
I shudder thinking back to my teen years. One day during my sophomore year in high school, a group of teenagers from a local high school were killed (one was crippled) in a car crash. It occurred off campus, during lunch break.
I had grown up with some of the victims. We even hung around the same circles. It was never discovered whether or not alcohol or drugs played a part in the accident, but we we all suspected it did. It was pretty well known that this group, as well as many kids on school campus, partied during the school lunch hour (and beyond).
And it wasn't just troublemakers either--it seemed no social or economic class was immune to teenage drinking.
During my youth, it wasn't uncommon for parents to automatically deny that their own child had a drinking/drug (I found the two usually went hand in hand) problem. These parents sometimes would even go as far to shift blame onto others. It wasn't their child who had the problem, but rather, their child's friends or peers. Bad influences.
Equally troubling, I also remember those cool parents who would even supply a keg or two for their own teens and their friends.
Now that I'm a parent and some our own circle of friends have teenagers, it's scary how quickly some of us parents block out our own teen years. It couldn't possibly happen to my kid we rationalize.
Anita Shreve's moving novel, Testimony, explores the consequences (and parental denial) of teenage drinking when a group of teenage boys at a local boarding school become involved in a sex-scandal after being caught on videotape having sex with an underage girl while intoxicated. In an interview with her editor, the author admits she considers teenage drinking an epidemic and even more worrisome, are the parents who fail to do anything about it; the mothers she has come across who deny their own children are drinking. As Shreve points out:
Why aren't we outraged about this? ...every single one of them [mothers] believed that their own child was not doing it [drinking]. Even though the odds would tell you that that was simply not possible.
I can believe this. Today when I hear of teens we know getting caught drinking or doing drugs, our reactions as the other parents are telling: we wonder where the guilty child (or parents) went wrong. To some of us it seems unfathomable that this could happen to our own child. And we then secretly breathe a huge sigh of relief. Thank god it wasn't our child.
But we just don't want to consider the grim possibility that the only difference between our child and theirs is our child didn't get caught.