By Rikki Schwab
Winthrop Town Marshal
They say to drink and be merry — after all, it is the holidays. However, drinking can lead to mistakes. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility reports that in 2012, in the state of Washington there were 146 fatalities involving alcohol — of those, 16 were under age 21.
We have to remember that these kids are our future, and someone, somewhere is getting them this alcohol. It may even be from your own homes. I have to ask our teens, is this fun to you? Let’s not be a statistic. I challenge you to be an individual, a leader, not a follower. When you move onto your adult life, none of this stuff will matter, unless of course you’re one of these statistics — then your life is going to significantly change, and not for the better.
The frontal lobe of our brains is one of the last areas to develop, and is the control center for common sense and decision-making. It doesn’t fully develop until we are in our early 20s. This isn’t an excuse for making mistakes as a teen or child. This is also an area affected by drinking and drug use — which reinforces that we need to watch our kids, stay on them and see what they are into.
Oftentimes, parents will tell me that their child is 13 or older and they want them to know they have privacy. Well, they can have privacy, but they are in your house and you are responsible for what goes on in your home. I encourage parents to walk through their kids’ rooms when they are gone, take a look around, get to know your child. You just might learn something.
Teenagers want to be in the “in” crowd, and often will let us see what we want from them so that we aren’t disappointed. If parents were more into snooping around, then the police wouldn’t have to when things go wrong. I am not saying you should give your child or teen no privacy, but there have to be boundaries so we can grow. Unfortunately, a lot of how children develop starts when they are younger. Once they are teens, putting the hammer down isn’t going to work so well. Teens display their frustration in anger. When they internalize this, they will tend to find another way to act out, which may be drugs, drinking, or self-mutilation (cutting).
Remember, the holidays are for family, friends, good times and being merry. It’s not a time to raise the statistic levels for drinking and driving. Be responsible and remember to take keys from individuals who you know have had enough. Open your eyes and hearts to all the crosses on the roads around us and remind us that once lives are taken, we cannot get them back. Don’t be that person who wishes they wouldn’t have gotten behind the wheel. And don’t be that teen that can’t get into college or the military because you have a criminal record. Have a safe holiday and New Year.