Straight from the files of teenage stupidity came the tale last week of a house party gone wild.
A family goes on vacation. The teenage cat sitter invites friends over. The house gets trashed.
It’s a parental nightmare, and one that caught the eye of the Internet.
By Saturday, more than 700 commenters had weighed in on the story – judging everything from the number of cats owned by the family to the preppy schools the kids attend.
Here’s what was absent: a real, honest discussion about underage drinking.
Alcohol wasn’t mentioned in either of the stories about the havoc done to a Parkside home when a teen party raged out of control while the homeowners were in Costa Rica. The family members told their story to The Buffalo News when they became frustrated that few of the teens involved or their parents were owning up to the damage or offering to make amends.
It’s obvious from the accounts that drinking or drugs were a factor. Pools of vomit. Video of a boy purposefully urinating on a bed. Broken furniture and holes in the walls.
This isn’t the kind of stuff that happens when a bunch of sober kids hang out.
There’s a lesson in this story for any parent of a teenager. You might think your child is smart, sweet and squeaky clean, but you really ought to ask a whole lot of questions when they head out for the night. And there needs to be a frank discussion about drinking.
The high-schoolers who trashed the Buffalo home aren’t the only ones out there partying.
A weekend party in October in Clarence led to the arrest of 31 people for underage drinking. A report at the time noted that damage to the house was “so extensive” it was documented by a police photographer.
A North Tonawanda teenager was charged with attempted murder in October after he allegedly stabbed a 17-year-old during a game of beer pong at a house party.
Back in June, a teen party in Hamburg led to a stolen car that was set on fire.
The list goes on.
Kids do unbelievably stupid things when they get together and party. The debauchery that damaged the Binder family’s Buffalo home deserves real reparations and serious apologies from every child involved, and no parent should be making excuses for that type of behavior.
But the takeaway for all parents out there is that underage drinking is much more common than you want to believe. Think it’s not your child? By 18, more than 70 percent of teens have had at least one drink, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Here’s another takeaway: Many kids who drink, drink hard. This isn’t kids sipping on wine coolers. The NIH reports that young people, on average, have five drinks on a single occasion within a few hours.
It’s not just trashed homes and ruined reputations at risk. Sexual assault, drunken driving, injuries and fights can all spiral out of booze-fueled partying. And, tragically, so can death; 5,000 people younger than 21 die each year in alcohol-related incidents.
The teenagers who were at this house party need to be taught a lesson. Next time, there could be even more serious consequences.
The takeaway for all parents out there is that underage drinking is much more common than you want to believe.