Roy Exum: Teenagers Need A Plan

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

If you have a son or a daughter in high school, they should know about Erin Cox, a 17-year-old who was once the captain of the North Andover High School volleyball team in Massachusetts. Earlier this month she was just getting off her part time job at the Andover Inn when she got a call from a close friend and classmate who needed help.

The classmate was at a party with a lot of other teenagers and some were drinking. The classmate explained she was too tipsy to drive and asked Erin if she would come get her. So Erin drove to the neighborhood where the underage party was taking place and found her friend. Just as she did, police from four small towns showed up and arrested 12 underage youths and summoned 15 more to court for drinking, including the very sober Erin Cox.

North Andover High, it seems, has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage consumption and, by the rules, Erin was demoted as captain and suspended for five games. The school’s athletes had been warned not to drink and not to attend any party where drinking is taking place. But children are also told “Do not let your friends drive drunk. Call your mom or dad to come get you – no questions asked – and if you can’t call your parents, call a sober friend.”

Well, everybody can see what a mess this case has become. Erin said, “I wasn’t drinking and I felt like going to get her was the right thing to do. Saving her from getting in the car while she was intoxicated, and hurting herself, or getting in a car with someone else who had been drinking. I would give her a ride home.”

It can be said that if Erin had called her friend from her parked car outside or sent her a text, she wouldn’t have been at the party. It can also be said that had the police not shown up when they did, Erin would be regarded as a hero, helping out a buddy who had made a poor decision. But, as it is, “no good deed goes unpunished” and it is a textbook case that again proves zero-tolerance rules defy common sense.

A school official told reporters that when the police show up, there is nothing anyone can do. “The school is trying to take a very serious and principled stand regarding alcohol. And we get all of that. Teen drinking is a serious problem.”

Erin said she feels very “defeated. When you are in high school you are supposed to stay perfect, and be perfect, but everyone makes mistakes. But I would do again. It was the right thing to do.”

No, the right thing to do is for high school students and their parents to have the discussion before the problem ever presents itself. Two or three times every year we hear where there is a party of high school kids where some are caught with alcoholic beverages. It will come as little surprise that every parent was once a teenager and some know quite a bit about underage drinking.

Every high school student should have a plan including the telephone numbers of three reliable people in case of an emergency. A parent should be the first line of defense but any teenager old enough to drive a car should realize there are going to be times when a steady voice on the other end of the line is a Godsend.

There is a code among teenagers to never tell on somebody else and that is noble up to a point. But when a situation turns dangerous, or a friend is too drunk to drive, or a pal is about to make a mistake, all of us will agree the very best friends are the ones who protect each other.

Zero-tolerance rules have proven to be idiotic and impractical. There must be a place for common sense and reasoning in any situation. One of the most successful football coaches has very few rules for his athletes “because that way we don’t have to make so many exceptions. Our guys know what is right and what is wrong and if they have questions, answers are pretty easy to find.”

If you have a teenaged son or daughter, I am begging you to have a plan before you need a solution. Life is so much simpler – and happier – that way.

royexum@aol.com


My Brother’s Keeper Program May Have Lofty Goal, But Makes Faux Pas

A federal president known for misuse of the Christian scriptures has done it again, but this time with Chattanooga city government following him into a program whose name falls from the lips of humankind’s first murderer.  The query “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is from a slab of dialogue in which Cain is defiant to his creator, who is asking the whereabouts of his missing ... (click for more)

Passing On The History Of Atrocities To Eliminate Them

I have seen and read a lot about the world in my 68 years. Out of curiosity, yesterday, I read an obituary of a local person who had served in WWII, and participated in the freeing of prisoners at a German concentration camp that I had never heard of before. My curiosity was peeked to find out how many concentration camps the Germans operated during the War, so I googled and found ... (click for more)

2 Suspects Sought In Armed Robbery At Highway 153 Long John Silver's

Police are searching for two suspects in an armed robbery that happened Friday morning. At approximately  8:10  a.m. the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 5317 Highway 153 for a robbery at the Long John Silver's.  Officers discovered that two black men, wearing hoodies and masks, entered the Long John Silver's and forced the assistant manager ... (click for more)

Pair Charged With Beating Man With Stick, Taking His Wallet

Two men are charged with beating a man with a large stick while he slept on the steps of a downtown church, then taking his wallet. Jerry Quincy Allen, 45, and James Leo Boas, 40, both of 727 E. 11th St., are charged with aggravated robbery. In the incident on Wednesday, Bradley Casehart said he and a friend were asleep at Tompkin Chapel Church on Palmetto Street. He ... (click for more)

McCallie Claims Own Mat Title with Depth

  With no champions, yet good depth, host McCallie won the 34 th annual McCallie Wrestling Invitational Tournament Saturday with 223 points followed by runner-up Union Grove (196) and third place Cleveland (186.5) in the 27-team field. In winning a record eighth team title, McCallie had runners-up in James Westbrooks (126) and Brock Herring (132), plus three thirds and ... (click for more)

Hawks Defeat Riverdale, 55-43, For Rhea Title

(Story will be updated) EVENSVILLE, Tenn. – Hamilton Heights had a chance to win the boys and girls title in the Rhea County Holiday Hoops tournament Saturday night. The Hawks delivered. The Lady Hawks came up short. Once-beaten Hamilton Heights, getting pivotal back-to-back 3-pointers by Silas Adheke and Joan Duran in the final two minutes and sterling efforts by Ezekiel ... (click for more)