Quotes of Misconception:
“Kids will be kids.”
“Kids probably won’t listen anyway.”
“We did it as kids and we turned out just fine.”
“Kids will drink anyway.”
It is fall; let’s talk football. In fantasy football one doesn’t always get the best players, but it is about working with the team you have. You can trade some. Win some. Lose some. But basically you want the best chance of success that you can possibly create.
Let’s apply this same concept to underage drinking. Kids are not always dealt the best home life, and even if they are they can still be susceptible to injury (poor choices).
You would not hope or trade for a quarterback who throws interceptions here and there. You would hope for a quarterback with consistency and a good arm. You would try to surround that quarterback with a solid offensive line (developmental assets or values).
Yes, your quarterback may get sacked (make mistakes), but you would hope that they could scramble or learn to get rid of the ball quicker. You would also surround your quarterback with good receivers (friends and adults). You may even trade to get better receivers for your quarterback.
You are trying to be the best general manager you can be of your fantasy team. Let’s apply those same skills to our youth.
As adults working with children we cannot diminish our ability to influence youth. Instead of having the thought, “kids will be kids,” surround them with good teammates and our influence. Kids don’t always do what we say, but that doesn’t mean they are not listening. Don’t avoid the problem topics where “kids probably won’t listen anyway.” Don’t have the thought, “Well, we did that as kids and we turned out just fine.”
Regardless if you were the non-drinker, the experimenter or the extreme under-age drinker in your crowd. Regardless if it was 30 years or 10 years ago. The rules (meaning laws) have changed.
As adult role models in our community, underage drinking can no longer be thought of as “kids just being kids.” Twenty-plus years ago, the police officer dumped out my beer and said he would tell my dad (Gulp! It still makes me scared.).
I don’t need to tell you that times have changed. When one speaks with retired and current police officers, they talk about the liability of letting kids go. Many officers do not know exactly where you live to take you home to have a chat with your parents, nor are they allowed to give you a ride home.
We may live in a small town, but these are no longer small times (meaning the legal repercussions).
Adults, are you thinking of having a “safe” party for your kids’ friends to drink and experiment because “they would be drinking anyway?” Be prepared to be charged with a misdemeanor. Cass and Crow Wing Counties have a Social Host Ordinance. (http://www.co.cass.mn.us/ordinances/201001_socialhost.pdf)
Law enforcement will issue minor consumption tickets to underage drinkers. Speaking with an Army Reserves recruiter, if an individual has two minor consumptions on their record, the Army will not take them. Remember when it was the thought that kids could join the military for structure and discipline?
Speaking with these same officers, they are enforcing these underage drinking laws. Heroin, spice, synthetics, meth and marijuana are on the rise in Cass and Crow Wing Counties.
I am not saying that just because a kid drinks they will be doing drugs. However, I am saying we want the best team possible. We will want to work the percentages and stats. The more kids are drinking, the more kids are using.
Years ago there was not an NFL Conduct Policy. That does not mean there was not misconduct. Regardless, if all misconduct is being caught, many good athletes are being suspended and ruining their careers because legal times have changed.
Years ago underage drinking was occurring. Saying “we did it as kids” and “we turned out just fine” doesn’t mean that it was OK. It does mean you did not have the legal consequences that our kids face. Use your influence to create a good team!