Other views: Adult approach to teenage drinking doomed to failure
It's sad to see adults still scratching their heads as to what to do about the recent binge drinking problem we are facing. Truth be told, this is not a "new" problem as some are making it out to be. Another truth is part of the problem are those...
It's sad to see adults still scratching their heads as to what to do about the recent binge drinking problem we are facing. Truth be told, this is not a "new" problem as some are making it out to be. Another truth is part of the problem are those very "heads" that are being scratched.
I grew up in "small town" North Dakota. Many of you don't want to believe it, but drinking is a way of life for many of us in rural communities and bigger cities in the state, as well. It is woven into the fabric of our daily lives, we see it everywhere, it is what we are taught, it is what we know. Most of our parents turn a blind eye to it, or we are so scared of getting in trouble for doing it that we lie to our parents and hide it from them.
I know many young adults feel, "There is nothing else to do here," and they are right. There are very few things to do in North Dakota. I have heard the argument from adults that there are plenty of school activities or church activities to keep you occupied. Well, not everyone is an athlete and not everyone goes to church.
Recently I was at a press conference where one of our state senators was speaking to a high school class about the dangers of drugs. When time came for questions, a young lady made the statement, "I have friends in other states and they have all kinds of entertainment and activities to do in their spare time. Here there is nothing to do."
The senator then replied that when he was growing up he never had that problem. There was always something to keep him busy and joked that he was always home by midnight. I saw a bit of frustration on the student's face that her question went unanswered.
But that is the answer, right there. Parents, adults, lawmakers and community members, if you want to begin to gain an understanding of this problem and help find ways to solve it, I beg you to open your eyes. Lawmakers, what worked for you 30 years ago will not work for us today.
Parents, turning a blind eye to the problem and denying that your kids take part in such activities will not make it go away. Law enforcement, giving out more citations and making it more of a crime will only cause the problem to go further underground, or have a opposite effect and cause a revolt.
If I'm a 19-year-old college student and I feel I may have a problem with alcohol, I won't want to ask for help for fear of being punished. If one of my friends has too much to drink at a party and we fear he needs medical attention, who is going to want to take him to the hospital? No one. Why? Because the police will write us up and we'll all be in trouble.
You have to be more progressive in your way of thinking and problem solving. Throwing more laws and police at the problem will only make it worse. In fact, I will guarantee you 100 percent it is going to make it worse.
On behalf of all the young people of the state, I ask all of you to change your way of thinking. The world is going on outside the boundaries of our state and you need to realize you can't keep us in 1955 forever. The way to solve the problem is to address the problem before it becomes a problem. Using fear has not worked so far. We are smarter than you think. Be open with us, be honest with us, show us a different way and you might be surprised at the kind of decisions we can make.
Dehn lives in Bismarck, N.D. E-mail email@example.com