EDITOR’S NOTE: Park Cities People received this letter from a Highland Park High School student in March. After verifying authorship, we respected the author’s desire to remain anonymous. At the beginning of the school year, we published a letter from a concerned parent about the same issue. It can be read at parkcitiespeople.com/community/parent-sounds-off-on-teen-after-parties.
Let me tell you a story: In my school system, the first time I learned about drug and alcohol abuse I was in sixth grade, and had just turned 12. We had an officer come speak to our science class for six weeks and “educate” us on the effects of drugs and alcohol on our developing bodies. We had skits, pamphlets, and the officer even told us stories about her experiences with drug abuse – gory details included.
Fast-forward five years, and the same stories are repeated over and over again to the same group of kids. Parents and our hopeful school administration like to think that these can really work … Sometimes, I feel bad for them.
But when a story or idea is too good to be true, it probably is. Clubs like CARE, DARE, Arrow, True Grit, and Project Purple have finally met their match and we – the community and our school – have a problem: You.
I’ve heard about the stories and I had been told that you were out there, but tonight was the first time I saw someone like you up close. I came because it was just another party on the weekend and I was told you would be there, but that you were, I quote: “Chill as F***.”
I didn’t really think it’d be anything fancy or out of the ordinary. When I arrived, you were in a dress that easily could have been your daughter’s and you grabbed me by my arm, hugged me like you knew me, and then latched onto me as I tried to walk past you.
You offered me a drink, and told me: “Make yourself at home, sweet girl! I love your outfit. There’s plenty of booze, boys and making out!” When I spoke to you, I thought I was talking to a girlfriend my age instead of a mother.
I didn’t really think about it at first, but on my way home later that night, I realized that you are the reason that those clubs will most likely fail when I graduate.
When I leave, the memberships will start to dwindle and over time, the advocacy will become less frequent with less and less attention. The saddest part is that they won’t die because “they don’t care,” “it’s boring and petty,” “it’s too old or repetitive,” or even because “all the kids think it’s stupid.”
It will be because your influence as ONE parent in a party will hold more power than sixty teenage girls in Arrow Club, dozens of boys in True Grit, or any national organization funded for dozens of years throughout our adolescent years.
You — a mother who not only supplies alcohol and lets her children drink heavily, but allows children that she does not know or have control over to do the same — have influence that will crush anyone else’s a hundred times over.
You can only imagine what those awareness clubs would do to be lucky enough to hold your influence for just one day. Anything that someone could ever tell them over the period of one semester, that an ex-drug addict could share in one assembly, that health and awareness programs could tell over the period of years, will go down the drain when an adult steps in and tells them the exact opposite.
But, do not fear. The fault is not only on you, but also on the rest of the parents in this country who do just the same every single weekend.
You, who turn a blind eye or condone the actions in the first place, have caused a bigger issue in the school systems than you may be aware of. But, in the end, no matter how much caution you might be throwing out the window, you’ll still win.
Because in reality, who are they going to believe and listen to first? A young teenager whom they barely know, a resources officer in their third assembly of the year teaching the same things they’ve heard since sixth grade, or their own mother who’s holding the handle to what might make them look a little cooler?
I hope your answer is a no-brainer.