Pubdate: Wed, 18 Apr 2001
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2001 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Author: David Harkins


With yet another self-serving, oversimplified article, Dan Benson 
chronicles Craig Gallow's crusade against the evils of teenagers consuming 
alcohol ("15% of teens polled drink with parents," April 11). There's no 
doubt that reckless teen drinking is a problem that needs to be addressed, 
but this article shows that those clucking their tongues at teenage drug 
and alcohol use are completely missing the point.

I'm disappointed that Benson and Gallow fail to consider some other 
contributing factors that are too rarely mentioned, such as:

Forbidden fruit syndrome: The ostrich-headed, puritanical philosophy that 
tells teens to "wait until you're older" but never dares discuss why 
results in statistics such as the highest alcoholism and teen pregnancy 
rate among industrialized nations. The more you tell them that one puff of 
a joint turns you into a purple-eyed monster, the more likely they are to 
try it - and disbelieve you.

Location, part I: Mequon, Cedarburg, Hartland - anyone else notice a 
pattern in the article? Affluent teens are living in oversize houses on 
acre lots in nameless, faceless "carburbia" and are bored out of their 
minds. The combination of adolescence, boredom and a lot of money 
frequently results in excessive drug and alcohol abuse. The movie "Traffic" 
got one detail very, very right: This country's substance abuse problems 
are predominantly suburban demand for an urban supply.

Location, part II: Not to harp too much, but put teens in places where they 
can't walk, can't bike and have inadequate or non-existent public 
transportation, and they're going to drive. This carburbian mix all too 
frequently turns youthful curiosity and experimentation into a tragic, and 
avoidable, waste of life.

David Harkins
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