Another Parent-Supervised Party Fiasco

Cecil writes: “According to today’s DP, cops broke up a party of underage drinkers early Sunday a.m. (probably a post-WAHS prom party). Teixeira said the parents were ‘on location’ (and I don’t think that means they were filming a movie). Sixteen teenagers were ticketed for underage possession of alcohol. As we all (probably) know, a local teen died about a week ago in an alcohol-related accident (Nolan Jenkins, AHS). And these circumstances sound remarkably similar to the circumstances several years ago when the cops broke up a party in Earlysville, at the home of Lisa Robinson, where underage kids were drinking–that party also took place within weeks of the deaths of two (?) girls in an alcohol-related accident. And we all recall the 8-year sentence that the Robinsons received (see the Hook story.)

Deja vu?”

36 thoughts on “Another Parent-Supervised Party Fiasco”

  1. I think it’s just a bad idea all the way around to allow anyone under age other than your own children, to consume alcohol or to offer them a place to consume it once it’s become clear that is what is happening.

    That most of them are “18 and will be charged as adults.” That’s just really odd to read in combination with “Underage drinking.”

  2. I just wish that we Americans, in general, weren’t such idiots when it comes to alcohol (and I will include my college-aged self in that generalization). It seems we inhabit a culture of recreational alcohol abuse rather than seeing alcohol as just a minor player in an evening’s diversions. We’re just not good at restraint when it comes to alcohol use.

    I think parents, teachers, coaches, adults in general, are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to teenagers and alcohol. It’s just a cultural norm that many, many teenagers will drink and they won’t do it responsibly (i.e., a glass of wine with dinner). When there are no “safe” places to drink, they go off and find unsafe, unsupervised, out-of-the-way places, compounding the irresponsibility of it all. So I don’t think it works simply to say “I expect you not to drink, sign this pledge” and imagine that the problem is solved. I do believe they’re simply going to go off and drink where they think they’re safe from prying eyes.

    At the same time, like TrvlnMn, I would think thrice (or more) before opening up my house for the post-prom party. That’s mostly for liability concerns, though–I DON’T think that I’d be “sending the wrong message about drinking” by doing so (I find that whole “message” argument alternately laughable and infuriating).

    TrvlnMn hits upon a great irony that I overlooked when I posted the story–if they can be charged as adults since they’re 18, how can they be charged with an underage violation? It boggles the mind, truly.

  3. We Americans are simply ridiculous on these sorts of topics. A standard joke in Spain has to do with the 13 year old coming in to a bar and asking questions about every wine on the list before ordering a class of house red: the joke celebrates that first sweet foray into coping with alcohol out in the world. We make it illegal and inaccessible — and terribly alluring as a consequence. Just-Say-No doesn’t work with drugs or alcohol or sex and we cannot bring ourselves to deal honestly with teaching our teenagers how to responsibly cope with adult things.

    We societally get failing grades here — and our children suffer and too often die as a result.

  4. Let’s not forget the role played by our commercialize-everything culture; the marketing of drunkenness, so to speak. Images of an irresponsible drinking culture are just below the surface of much of our popular entertainment (movies, TV), the products associated with drinking culture are really about irresponsible drinking (all those new malt beverages, beer, etc–picture the commercials in your mind)–it all just feeds into this situation where very few American teens are primed and prepared to have responsible, adult attitudes about alcohol.

    There’s a lot of money to be made off of our drinking culture, and where there’s money to be made, under our form of capitalism, restraint generally goes out the window.

  5. You all need to read Lisa Provence’s new story in the Hook about this….on stands now, online tomorrow sometime….it’s amazing how one sided this story has been reported.

  6. Dave, “this story” meaning the most recent busted party, or the Earlysville/8 years party?

  7. Adults need to obey the laws about underage drinking and not allow their children to have parties that include alcohol consumption whether or not they agree with those laws.
    And as a parent, I would be very angry if another parent provided alcohol without informing me as I choose to tell my children to obey the alcohol laws. I think it is worth trying to also get kids to realize they can harm other innocent people out on the roads.
    I keep writing things and erasing them because I have no clue how we can keep our kids safe or protect them from losing friends who make a bad decision about drinking and driving. But we have to keep trying as a community to do better. I wish I thought that loss would help kids keep each other safer but it does not seem to work that way even when kids have lost a family member.

  8. Alcohol abuse woven throughout the history of the world. Great figures such as Alexander the Great, and regular Joes alike have left this world early becasue of its effects.

    As for what Elizabeth says about Spain, they have HUGE problems with youngsters drinking, a phenomenon called Botella.

    We should think about what can be done, drugs and alcohol put me behind the 8-ball for my high school years and a few years thereafter but luckily, I never physically injured myself or others and I got some sense to me and gave it all up and recovered nicely but nonetheless, the road I had to travel was rough and uphill becasue of those abuses. I think the best remedy is to have sever punishments for establishments that sell to minors or for those willing to purchase for them, that will surely deture some of this.

  9. 18-, 19- and 20-year olds are not underage drinkers. They are adults. No court has ruled that these particular adults have their liberties curtailed. Laws that violate due process merit civil disobedience and foster the disrespect for law we see every day at all levels of society. Drinking at any age is a bad idea but perfectly legal if you’re at least 18. I wish the police would stop committing crimes against law-abiding citizens based on unconstitutional laws.

  10. Not sure what laws to which you are referring, cvillenative. Currently, the law is that the legal drinking age in all 50 states is 21. This has been the law since a federal highway law enacted in the early 1980s restricted funds to states that allowed younger folks to drink. As I remember, it was lobbyied heavily by M.A.D.D. in an effort to reduce drunk driving fatalities. Up until then, the drinking age in most states, including Virginia, was 18. (The jury may still be out on the effectiveness raising the drinking age on improving highway safety.) Yes, it is contradictory to other “adult privelige” laws, i.e. voting, smoking, driving, purchasing pornography, etc. that most adults are allowed to enjoy by law (not constitutionally, however..).

    I’m curious as to which constutional rights are violated by drinking age laws. I don’t see the connection between enforcing the drinking age and violation of due process, or any other liberty guaranteed by the US Constitution…

  11. Cecil(2):

    about all that….after some folks read it, I think this thread might head in a different direction…

  12. I think Elizabeth gets it right – dead on. Whatever parents may wish to teach their children they may. But, there’s no question we drive up the incidence of binge drinking by trying to enact a ‘prohibition’.

    People have and will abuse substances – they’re going to do that no matter what – we are best off adopting harm reduction strategies, which amounts to accepting that we can’t eliminate some things – a step the prohibitionist mentality is unwilling to take – and seeking to live in peace with those things. AA/NA make a big point of the serenity prayer – it’s valid for the prohibitionist set as well.

  13. Okay, now I’ve read Lisa Provence’s story in this week’s Hook (not online this morning yet) and I can see what Dave McNair is alluding to. Apparently these WAHS parents did NOT provide alcohol to the kids (whereas the Robinsons purchased the alcohol for the kids at the Earlysville party), the WAHS parents “patrolled” the party looking for alcohol, poured out alcohol when it was found (smuggled in), and blocked the driveway to keep kids from leaving. It sounds like it was a parent-supervised post-prom party with some other parents involved (one in the story was there in the early a.m. to help make breakfast for the kids) with kids spending the night in tents on the property, and it sounds like strenuous efforts were made to keep alcohol out of the picture, but kids did smuggle it in.

    And yet they could still be charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors.

    This is a real head-scratcher for me. There’s no question I’d want my kids to attend a post-prom party like this one, with adults supervising, rather than going off to someone’s house where the parents are out of town or off to a beer blast spot in the woods. I think it’s interesting that, in the Nolan Jenkins case, although we heard that the cops found the party that he had been at and busted 11(?) underage drinkers there, there’s no mention of any parents being “on location” at that party. Maybe if parents had been there, Nolan Jenkins wouldn’t have tried to drive home drunk. Similarly, I believe that it is the case that when Brittany Bishop died in 2002(?) (that’s the alcohol-related teen death that preceded the Earlysville/Robinson party), there was no word that parents were on location at the party she had attended.

    So what we seem to have is kids dying in alcohol-related crashes leaving parties where no parents were around, and then cops busting up parties where parents ARE around (and no teens are dying) and charging those parents (in the Earlysville case and threatening to do so in this WAHS case). That seems kinda screwy.

  14. With all due respect to Gail, the approach of adults simply “obeying the laws of underage drinking” is as silly as those “abstinence only” campaigns with regard to teenage sex and will be about as successful.

    About fifteen years ago, my brothers and I attended a local private high school. In a three period, we had two classmates die and one rendered a quadriplegic due to drunk driving accidents. The parties that led to both accidents had several things in common. Among them was that the oldest person there was around nineteen years old.

    I submit to you all that until you have a dear friend killed or grievously injured, you cannot appreciate the essential and indeed heroic role that parents willing to provide a place for teenagers to drink in a safe environment play in our community.

    I prophesy to you that the hounding of these parents and draconian punishments of same will lead to more tragedy in the near future.

  15. I just read the Hook article and it certainly sounds like the WAHS parents hosting the post prom party were behaving responsibly(and obeying the law) although the same can not be said for all the young guests. This is very different from the Robinson party where the parents provided the alcohol AND lied to other parents about whether there would be alcohol at the party. I hope that in the recent incident the police do not prosecute these parents.
    I completely agree that this community must do what it can to eliminate get togethers where there are no parents present. A good starting point might be if parents talk more with each other and always talk with hosting parents before a party even when the students are 18.

    In response to Judge Smails- my sympathies for your losses. In the last 5 years, I have shared the grief of a relative and dear friend over the loss of their young adult children- only in each of those cases there was another driver involved who was drunk and the young victims were sober. So I do believe we must support the efforts of parents to keep kids safe by hosting well supervised get togethers, but perhaps we need to increase the understanding of the kids that by sneaking alcohol in to parties, they could be setting up a friend’s parents for serious trouble.

  16. What’s troubling to me is how this story was reported….as a newsplex headline reads, “Police Bust Another Underage Drinking Party; Take Away Marijuana”….then its just a police save the day press release. Same with the DP story. No interviews with parents or questions about the raid itself…as Provence’s story shows, there’s alot more to it.

  17. I’m quoting from a comment on blog (after a post from them about how different their story is from the DP story):

    Ricki Jr.
    June 1st, 2006 | 3:02 pm
    I think the two accounts are pretty similar, with The Hook piece providing the added context that comes when writing
    for a weekly publication, presumably.

  18. David McNair wrote:

    What’s troubling to me is how this story was reported….as a newsplex headline reads, “Police Bust Another Underage Drinking Party; Take Away Marijuana”….then its just a police save the day press release. Same with the DP story. No interviews with parents or questions about the raid itself…as Provence’s story shows, there’s alot more to it.

    Most of the local news outlets tend to be just a straight forward “Good news / Bad News” no depth stories. Erring on the side of overly neutral or Favoring “Law and Order/Authorities.” That’s what makes them so bland and dishwatery. They go out of the way to avoid taking a position that might be controversial or cause offense.

    The Hook (for all it’s flaws) is good because it isn’t afraid to dig a little deeper and expose the ugliness or controversy to the light of day. “Spidermush” makes a good point that the hook does have a little bit more time to dig. But even given extra time I don’t think the local news outlets would be any different then they currently are.

    And In the case of the Broadcasters, a lot of that is dictated by the culture of the owner companies- small affiliates tend to play it safe where as the network “Owned and operated” have more room to take the that someone might get peeved by their coverage.

  19. “Not sure what laws to which you are referring, cvillenative.”

    Sylvia, I am referring to the 5th Amendment of due process and the proposition that only courts can take away your freedom.

    I also refer to the proposition of equality of law, where laws cannot deny rights for certain individuals or minority goups, unless the law applies equally to everyone.

    And the 14th Amendment of equal protection of the law where state and local government cannot deny Constitutional rights of their citizens.

    Already accepted in law is a 2-tier system– adults and juveniles. Drinking-age laws, where certain adults are prohibited from activities permitted for other adults, discriminates against tax-paying, voting adult citizens who have not been convicted of anything. I’ll grant you that juveniles don’t have the same rights as adults.

    Calling an 18-year-old an adult and then designating 18-year-olds as partial juveniles is absurd. The terms adult and juvenile are mutually exclusive.

    Or are they? Can a 16-year-old be charged as an adult? How can you be a juvenile and an adult at the same time? How can you be a juvenile when following the law and instantly become an adult when you break the law and still be the same age?

    I also refer to the proposition that federal law takes precedence over state and local laws, and the Constitution takes precedence over all laws and court rulings.

    Those who support alcohol prohibition for some adults and not all adults, seems to me, are likely the same people who support special laws to limit other civil rights for gays and blacks. Why would you think an 18-year-old of any race or sexual orientation should be stripped of adult freedoms and not be exempted from the responsibilities of citizenship such as paying taxes?

    Due process. Equality under law. Equal protection of law. Supremacy of the Bill of Rights. Rule of Law where government is constrained by the same laws that constrain the citizenry.

    Our nation, states, and cities have strayed so far from the law that we have come to believe whatever the government does must be legal by definition. If government schools actually teach these concepts, they must not be looking at real-world examples and counter-examples.

  20. That’s the thing. It’s hard to find a solid constitutional definition of “adulthood.”

    But, my point wasn’t to argue about the law, even though I introduced it in that manner. I actually wanted to point out at just because kids have reached a certain year in age does not mean that they will conduct themselves responsibly when dealing with risk.

    Many 18 yr olds (not all, but many) are not quite out of adolescent stage of development and have not finished their cognitive growth. They will believe that the odds favor them, despite dangerous behavior. They tend to believe that they will not crash the car or get pregnant or that bad things will happen to them directly as a result of their own actions. Having been freed from parental clutches and mandatory schooling, they can be over confident that their personal choices correct and will bring returns.This is a developmental stage in thinking, and it should be considered when parents are flippant about underage drinking.

    Another thing to consider about 18 year olds that this an age when they are gaining a lot of freedom, going to college, and earning responsibilities of adulthood such as working a at a job. It’s an exciting age, but it also involves the hard lesson that life includes the bad as well as the good.

    Kids need to learn about alcohol and it’s effects on their judgement. I actually think that parents who protect their kids while they are learning these lessons are doing a good thing. However, I don’t believe that the drinking age should be lowered, due to the amount of parents who don’t bother with these issues. The age of 21 keeps more kids out of bars and off highways, and drunk driving fatalities have dropped since it was re-enacted in the 80s, ( since college kids are less likely to road trip for a party. I see that as a benefit of the drinking age at 21.

    If anything, parents and kids need to talk about how to manage risks safely. We can’t leave this to the schools or the courts. I applaud parents who are realistic about kids drinking and take necessary steps to teach them and keep them safe.

  21. I agree with Sylvia’s assessment of the 18-year-old mindset–overly disposed to play down risks, an exciting/chaotic time of life, generally not “mature” in behavior or attitude (compared to a 40 year old, for example). An adult legally is not the same thing as an adult mentally and emotionally. And I do think a lot of this has to do with human development (biologically and cognitively). But I would also want to consider the extent to which this delayed maturation is cultural as well. It’s not universal that 18-year-old human beings in every culture behave the way American 18yos behave. I think we’ve set up an environment which really encourages teenagers to remain infantile rather than mature–we slow down and stretch out the maturational stages way more than other cultures, I think. And so we end up with a crop of teenagers that are really, really unsuited to handle the responsibilities that go with drinking. That’s why I’m not sure that lowering the drinking age is a great idea, EVEN THOUGH I do see the absurdity of allowing young people to fight in wars, get married, and be tried as adults in one set of contexts but treat them as non-adults in this other context. The reason I think lowering the drinking age would not help is that all it would do would be to remove the absurdity–it wouldn’t do a damn thing to make teenagers/18yos magically mature and responsible about drinking.

  22. I’m not sure where I stand, but I do think this is a really interesting discussion!!

    I can only say that I was willing to fight for a drinking age of 18 for three years of my life. Once I turned 21 and didn’t have to stress out anymore, I lost interest in the fight. It does seem absurd to have “tried as adults” and “underage drinking” in the same sentence. BUT, not too long out of college, I can already look back at my time as an 18-year-old (fashion-wise, significant-other-wise, and otherwise) and think “What was I THINKING???”

    Anyway, thanks, you guys, for making me think about this issue a little more! In a time where the rights of Americans is making the news regularly, it’s an important thought process to go through.

  23. Raise the drinking age and lower the age required to go to war.

    Keep alcohol away from public places, so that business owners can keep 500-1000% profit margins. Keep it away from private places too, so that we all become lawbreakers and leave it up to the discretion of enforcement to pick among the savage masses.

    I think killgore had it right with allowing gun toters to conceal their weapons in any place of business, as long as it served alcohol. We should force people to have firearms when they are drinking.

    I don’t encourage the mistakes that I’ve made, but I recognize that I’d be a hypocrite for chastising those who consider repeating them.

    Except for violence. I’m against that most days.

  24. Speaking as one County school board member and not on behalf of the board, I want to let citizens interested in student conduct issues know that I have posted some information that relates to this issue and next week’s School Board agenda on my blog here. I welcome any feedback in advance of our discussions.

    Brian Wheeler * bwheeler @
    At-Large Member, Albemarle County School Board

  25. Cecil wrote:
    “TrvlnMn hits upon a great irony that I overlooked when I posted the story–if they can be charged as adults since they’re 18, how can they be charged with an underage violation? It boggles the mind, truly. ”

    It shouldn’t “boggle” your mind. It should infuriate you! These inane, completely insane LAWS are put in place by the populace via allegedly universal suffrage.

    There are many many laws on the books, enforced or not (until some powerful entity can make use of them), that should be required to be reviewed. Yet nothing gets done. This is proof positive our vaunted ‘system’ is much further from ideal than 99% of folks think.

  26. You are all just scratching the surface of this issue by discussing the constitutionality or petty legalities of the laws in vigor. Some here have alluded to other cultures’ attitude about alcohol. But it goes far deeper than just this angle of society. Americana is very SICK on so many levels you cannot hope to find a band-aid big enough to cover the infection running through our veins.

    What is this infection? The Golden Calf.

  27. It is daunting to think of how we can make any difference in the larger culture on this isssue. But we must continue to try within our own families and school communities because our children’s lives and the lives of anyone on the road are at stake. We must not panic and we must not go the route of “Reefer Madness” ravings because that will never work with kids. Even when the warnings are accurate, kids feel immortal until the maturity of real adulthood as oppposed to “young adulthood”kicks in. However, maybe we can do better at being available for our kids and providing an adequate level of supervision. We have to be able to assert our authority as parents even if the kids get angry. I think it is very understandable that parents give kids a lot more freedom when they are 16-17 because they will soon be at college but when it comes to parties, that attitude needs revision in our community.

  28. Someone care to explain to me how an 18 year old can die in combat in Iraq and not be able to legally drink a beer.?
    Has the higher drinking age really lowered the drunk driving accident rate among teens? We still seem to have them all the time.
    Maybe we should raise the driving license age to 18, like all other adult things. They could still learn to drive,under proper supervision,earlier. And a longer driver apprenticeship would only be a good thing. Of course some parents and other adults might have to take the trouble to drive their kids to baseball practice,or whatever. Kids wouldwalk and bike more-fight obesity. And maybe it might even be a step toward ending our society’s addiction to the automobile.
    The drinking age and drunk driving are separate issues. The present age is both unfair and illogical. But drunken driving-I think we should have no tolerance for it both legally and socially. A driver impaired by alcohol is a menace, whether 16 or 60. The young driver because of lack of experience,and driver who thinks their experience means they can drink and drive safely.

  29. I meant to say the older driver thinks his driving experience means he can drive safely after drinking

  30. The reason the drinking age is 21 is that it is difficult to separate the issues of drinking and teenage drunken driving. I grew up when the drinking age was 18. There were more teenage drunken driving fatalities then but much less college age binge drinking. I think that the drinking(and voting) age then became 18 as a response to the fact that young Americans were dying in Vietnam who were too young to drink(or vote) legally. I am feeling hopeless thinking about this….. But we must do our best to address this issue at the local level because we owe it to our kids-

  31. Has the higher drinking age really lowered the drunk driving accident rate among teens? We still seem to have them all the time.

    I’m going to propose that Virginia consider adopting a California style approach to Underage driving it’s called the Graduated Driver License.

    From the AAA California website:

    * At-fault fatal and injury collisions involving 16-year-old drivers declined an impressive 24 percent over the law’s first two years.
    * Teen passenger deaths and injuries from crashes of 16-year-old drivers dropped a stunning 40 percent over the law’s first two years.

    It’s a 3 stage system. Stage 1 is the Learners Permit and associated restrictions. Restrictions under stage 2 of the Graduated Driver License are as follows:

    * For the first year (or until you turn 18), no passengers under age 20 allowed unless a licensed driver age 25 or older is present. Exceptions made for family need.
    * For the first 12 months (or until you turn 18), no driving permitted between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., unless accompanied by licensed driver age 25 or older. Exceptions permitted for school, employment, family and medical need (licensees must carry a statement from the appropriate school official, employer, doctor or parent/guardian).
    * Violation of passenger or nighttime driving restrictions results in either court-ordered community service or a fine. Citations are given only if an officer stops a teen driver for another violation.
    * Maintain a clean driving record. One citation or at-fault crash within 12 months results in a DMV warning. Two or more result in license restrictions and suspensions.
    * Not drink and drive. Even a .01 percent concentration of alcohol in your blood — less than one drink — will result in a one-year license suspension for drivers under age 21.

    The web link above has more info. It’s a program that I’m sure would work in Virginia. In my opinion there’s no reason at all that someone under 18 shouldn’t have license restrictions.

  32. Do they ban using cel phones while driving, too? I thought I understood them to be as damaging to one’s driving abilities as drinking.

  33. I think VA does have a version of graduated licensure for beginning/teen drivers. This site has a drop-down bar at the bottom where you can choose a state to see what its regulations are on teen drivers, and it looks like VA has a three-stage program. And I am SO glad to hear this! As I understand it, all the research on teenage brains suggests that the things that constitute good judgment–impulse control, risk assessment, attention span, etc.–just aren’t fully formed in the teen brain. Thus it seems crucial to me to have graduated licensure for teen drivers.

  34. Do they ban using cell phones while driving, too? I thought I understood them to be as damaging to one’s driving abilities as drinking.

    Driving while “distracted.”

    I think that CA does have a cell phone prohibition while driving. It’s actually more of a requirement to “use hands free” devices if you’re on the phone and driving. But it’s essentially like the seat belt law. I’m not sure how often it’s *really* enforced. I imagine if the police officer has to deal with you for any other reason and your cell phone, like your seat belt, is involved in the situation – by the officers eyewitness or your own admission, then you could get a ticket. Highway Patrol (aka state police- and mainly the motorcycle units) are probably going to be the only officers writing that ticket.

    I’ve personally seen 3 situations where a cell phone almost caused an accident. The first two were people blowing through 4 way stops cell phone firmly to their ear and not paying attention to the road, almost hitting another car. The third was in traffic – guy yacking on phone doesn’t notice a car has to stop suddenly for a car that’s suddenly pulled out into traffic, and with what would normally be enough of a following distance to safely stop, cell phone guy, almost rear ended the stopped car. Screeching last minute brakes and the whole works.

  35. Several states and the District of Columbia and also military bases have banned handheld cell phone use while driving. Sounds like a good idea. It seems like every other driver turning onto 29N from Rio is yakking on a cell phone, and same with other places!

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