Teens and booze...

Dateline: Fri 08 Jun 2007

The Star has fallen all over itself to point out the obvious: it's a bad idea for adults to host parties where teen-agers are drinking alcohol. Bad, as in there may be legal and moral consequences. A kid could die.

In what seems like a "Get Jack Trudeau" (and Steven Hilbert) marathon, the paper has continued to play off the unfortunate events of last weekend, when Trudeau's Zionsville home was the site of a Park Tudor graduation party. The big news? The kids were drinking, outside. The cops came. Big bust. Now Trudeau is charged with a felony and faces actual prison time.

I find this absurd, given that he and his wife Lisa attempted to be responsible: they took keys, they kept a list of kids who were there. Could it be that they didn't know the kids were drinking?

This is the voice of experience speaking. For my daughter's 18th birthday, my good friend Kathee Pizzi and her daughter Manuela agreed to host a party in their spacious Northside home. The girls who planned the party swore to Kathee and me and my husband, et al, that there would be no alcohol whatsoever. I attended the party for a short time; everything was great. I left after an hour or so. Within 5 minutes of arriving home, Kathee called me --- the kids had lied, she said. She went out back and discovered alcohol stashed in the woods, including a keg. She threatened to call the police. Many of the kids split, literally pealing out of her driveway, leaving behind purses and backpacks.

Thank God nobody died. But if someone had, would it have been the fault of the adults? Why isn't there more emphasis on the kids and their bad behavior? Or those who provided the alcohol -- probably not Trudeau, just as it wasn't the adults at my daughter's shindig.

Some of this, I also believe, reflects the old American puritanical ethic when it comes to booze. Children in Europe are exposed to wine and beer early on; there's not some magic age where one transitions to being able to handle it. There also is more emphasis on safe driving. Here we crack down on alcohol, making it the forbidden fruit, and put less emphasis on teaching every child road and driving safety.

Maybe the story isn't so much about Trudeau and a rich kids' party. Maybe it's about our schizophrenic culture. And speaking of that, I'll bet at least some of the booze at the Park Tudor event came from parental alcohol cabinets, or was supplied by older siblings or friends who could legally buy it.

Everyone is so hung up on hanging Trudeau rather than looking at the real issue.


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