Police discovered earlier this week that a teenager who was reported missing was with more than a few “friends” at a house in the 3100 block of Valcour Drive in Glenview, Ill., a northern suburb of Chicago, WLS-TV (ABC affiliate) reports.
The owners of the house were said to be in South Korea when teens conducted a massive party on the premises and completely trashed the house. Damage included bathrooms smeared with vomit and feces, empty beer cans strewn about, and drywall smashed into sawdust. And $17,000 in cash was reportedly missing from the property.
Underage drinking and the destruction of property & young lives
Let this be a lesson to everyone—and I don’t just mean about not leaving $17,000 laying around in your house in cash when you take your family to South Korea.
This is a nightmare on so many levels, but all judgment aside, this nightmare needs to spur a discussion of underage drinking, which is more than a big problem for teenagers. Not only does drinking cause teenagers to vomit a lot, as described here, but it also leads to some pretty dumb decisions, some mighty risky behaviors like punching holes in drywall, and peril they should not have to endure like spreading of disease through contact with contaminated feces, apparently.
This stuff doesn’t happen if kids stay sober, so I feel secure in saying that drinking was involved here—or possibly drugs.
Parents, even those of rich teenagers on the North Shore, need to know what their teens are doing when they head out. And they need to have a frank discussion about drinking with their teenage sons and daughters.
Underage drinking is much more common than I think parents realize. More than 70 percent of 18-year-olds in the US have had at least one drink, the government says. “According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 35.1 percent of 15-year-olds report that they have had at least one drink in their lives,” according to the National Institutes of Health.
And when kids drink, many of them really drink. A lot. They’re not sipping a beer or wine cooler, folks. NIH says that teens drink, on average, five drinks within a few hours when they go out for a party. And when they’re drunk—and five drinks in a few hours is more than enough—there are huge risks, including (from the NIH website):
- Death — 5,000 people under age 21 die each year from alcohol-related car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning.
- Serious injuries — More than 190,000 people under age 21 visited an emergency room for alcohol-related injuries in 2008 alone.
- Impaired judgment — Drinking can cause kids to make poor decisions, which can then result in risky behavior like drinking and driving, sexual activity, or violence.
- Increased risk for physical and sexual assault — Youth who drink are more likely to carry out or be the victim of a physical or sexual assault.
- Brain development problems — Research shows that brain development continues well into a person’s twenties. Alcohol can affect this development, and contribute to a range of problems.
This time in Glenview, there were no deaths. We’re happy about that. But next time, teens might not be so lucky.