Grad dilemma — Zero tolerance or let them drink at home
Two stories about underage drinking, both with Jersey ties, are making news this week. First there's the tragic case of Hunterdon County's Timothy Piazza who died while pledging for a fraternity at Penn State. This is the case where Tim fell down a flight of stairs, and those with him did not seek medical attention until the next morning. It isn't hard to assume this decision was to hide underage drinking that was occurring. Prosecutors now say we can expect to hear about charges against a number of people involved. The fraternity has been permanently banned.
Then there's the story out of Saugerties, NY where 34 New Jersey teenagers from Wallington, NJ were arrested for underage drinking. Ranging in age from 17 to 19, the teens had rented a house to have an after-prom party and police were called over a noise complaint. Loud music could be heard from half a mile away. Whoever the homeowner was who rented to these teens will be charged as well.
It brings up the annual dilemma faced by parents everywhere. When your child is turning 18, assumed to be legally an adult in almost every respect but alcohol, do you maintain a zero tolerance policy when post-prom parties and graduation parties come around? Or do you opt for the lesser of two evils and allow a controlled party, car keys secured, because it is safer than what you know they will probably do out and away from your supervision?
It's a tough call. It's one of those debates where everyone is ultimately on the same page. Everyone does what they do thinking it is the safest thing within certain contexts. The debate is simply how to arrive there. My oldest child is 12, so I'd be lying if I told you I've dealt with this. When I do, I'd like to think I will drive home the dangers to the point that he'll make the right decisions on his own when I'm not there. After all, college will be only months away. I don't think I could in good conscience allow an underage drinking fiasco in my home. Yet I understand what drives people to do it.
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