Pubdate: Tue, 11 Sep 2007
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Page: A17
Copyright: 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Tony Newman


In regard to "A Toast to the Family" by Stanton Peele (editorial page,
Aug. 31), about parents who allow teens to drink alcohol at home and
the laws targeting the parents:

My parents allowed my friends and me to drink at my house. It is only
now, 20 years later, that I understand and respect how brave and
protective my parents' actions were. I say "brave" because they were
breaking the law and could have been prosecuted. I say "protective"
because they knew that having us in the backyard kept us safe, away
from the much more risky activity of drinking and driving around town
like so many other teens.

While most parents hope that their teenagers will not drink alcohol or
smoke marijuana, the reality is that 75% of high-school seniors will
have tried alcohol by the time they graduate, and 50% will have tried
marijuana. In addition to allowing us to drink beer in the backyard,
my parents made it clear that my friends and I could always call them
for a ride home from a party. I understood clearly that they much
preferred a call from an intoxicated teenager asking for a ride home
than a drunken teenager driving his drunken friends home.

My parents' goal for their two kids was not to practice the
unrealistic mission of abstinence, but to keep us safe by encouraging
responsibility. In this regard, they were incredibly successful. We
never got into trouble with the law and never got into an accident or
a fight that involved alcohol. We learned how to drink in a way that
didn't lead to injury to others or ourselves.

Tony Newman

Communications Director

Drug Policy Alliance

New York
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