By Bob Houghtaling
The East Greenwich High School Prom is but a short while away. By now many young people have arranged dates, rented tuxedos, tried on dresses and contacted limos.
It promises to be a fun and memorable night. Unfortunately, it can also be a dangerous evening due to bringing alcohol into the mix. For some young adults, plans are being made for lots of drinking. To make matters worse, all too often, many adults enable this process by purchasing or ignoring alcohol. It has been a problem for years.
Growing up represents many issues and concerns for kids. In many ways it is a time for growth, pushing limits and questioning. Peer influence becomes extremely powerful and along with that, taking risks are a big part of the picture. For teens it is sometimes confusing. For parents it is a cause for worry. Adding alcohol to the mix can make matters even more difficult.
I have been the Director of the East Greenwich Drug Program for more than 30 years. My job came about shortly following the death of Todd Morsilli, who was killed by a vehicle driven by a local teen who was intoxicated at the time. Over the years we have created many services to address substance abuse in our town. Unfortunately, there is still much work to be done. Everyone needs to chip in.
Recent incidents involving teens drinking at dances and parties indicate that we need to be as vigilant as ever. Therefore, I am exhorting parents to speak with their youngsters about drinking. I am also asking that limits and expectations are discussed as well. On top of this, I am asking parents to please refrain from hosting parties where alcohol and other drugs are allowed. Letting other parents’ kids drink at your house is irresponsible. It is dangerous. It sends a mixed message. It is also against the law.
It should be noted that most moms and dads recognize that being a parent is often unpopular. Sometimes making difficult decisions can prove uncool. While being liked is nice – being responsible takes patience and thick skin. Adults who allow young people to drink may seem understanding and friendly to a 16 year old, but 10 years later, that view often changes. Kids have enough friends. They do not need adults desperate for youthful approval as buddies. There is nothing more important in the life of a teen than parents who act as parents.
Here is to a wonderful prom. Hopefully, this will become an evening to remember for all the right reasons. If indeed we adhere to the notion that children are our future – let us back up these words with action. The kids deserve it.