Here is a straight from the headlines story that all parents should use to talk with their teens. Erin is a 17 year old senior in high school, honor roll student and captain of her Volleyball team. On a Saturday night, Erin got a call from a friend who was drunk at a party and knew that she couldn't drive home. She asked Erin to come and get her. Erin arrived at the party to pick up her friend, just as the police had come after getting a call about this out of control party. Erin was arrested along with the other party guests. Police confirmed that Erin was "alcohol free" but regardless she was stripped of her volleyball captainship and was suspended from play for 5 games. This was devastating for Erin. She had only been helping out a friend. Unfortunately, the town in which Erin lives has a very strict, zero tolerance alcohol and drug policy especially for athletes. Being in the presence of drugs and alcohol is equal to being in possession of illegal substances, hence the severe consequences for Erin. Erin and her parents are suing the town.
This blog is not about fairness and what the town should or shouldn't do. It is a cautionary tale for parents to share with their kids. Sometimes the world is not "fair." For Erin, she was helping out a friend, clearly a responsible act, and her friend, knew it wasn't safe to drive, clearly a responsible act. Both teens were acting responsively, that much is clear. But Erin was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and she is now paying dearly for her act of friendship. Fair or not fair, isn't really helpful right now. Talk about this story with your teen. Make sure you both understand your school policies about drugs and alcohol. Let them know that you are always always always a good starting point when a decision has to made. If a situation like this presents itself for your teen, tell them that you should be their first call, whether your teen is the drunk friend in this story, or the responsible friend. Promise to validate their act of responsibility, not punish it, and help them to figure out a strategy that is safe for everyone!!!