Thursday, March 25, 2010

PJ O'Rourke and East Bridgewater

In "Parliament of Whores" PJ O'Rourke famously quipped that "giving taxpayer money to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." The implication, of course, is that we should be careful about giving money to politicans.

But seen from the other side of the coin, maybe we shouldn't give whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. Or empty houses that would be seen as ripe party locations by other teenage boys.

This Globe article talks about a mother who claims her family's lives were "destroyed" due to the damage caused by unruly teens at her house when she went on a vacation to Paris and left her teenage son to mind the house (notice in the story there is some conflict between his version of events 'he had just stopped in to let the cat out' and what one of the kids says, 'there had already been two planned parties there that week.') Having been in this very same situation not TOO long ago, I think I can safely surmise what most likely happened. The full story will come out via the police investigation anyway.

Any parent who thinks that he or she is going to go away, leave a teen home alone for an extended period, and not run the risk of something like this happening has his or her head buried in the sand...even if an arrangement was made whereby it seems that the child is staying with relatives -- unless someone is checking up on the house, or another enforcement mechanism is in place, this is exactly what's going to happen.

So this kid right now is under tremendous stress and is being bullied/harassed by his classmates.

There is $45,000 worth of damage to their home (local news dubbed this the 'Nightmare on Elm Street.')

Several other kids may be facing charges and/or other forms of disciplinary action.

I know it's now more than a decade since I've been out of high school. I'll admit that styles, music, and curriculum may have changed, but this constant has remained -- when parents leave an empty house accessible to teenagers, mayhem results.

At the very least, the door is left wide open, so to speak, for underage drinking, recreational drugs, and other forms of adolescent experimentation.

And at worst, said situation may result in alcohol poisoning, sexual assault, or serious property damage.

I just hope this lesson stays as starkly obvious to me over the next twenty to thirty years as it seems now.

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