Risky Business

There were plenty of handouts at last night’s “Risky Behaviors” panel, sponsored by the Staples PTA. Drug use, drinking, eating disorders, peer pressure, self-mutilation, sex — you name it, a flier described it.

The parent next to me examined his stash. “What’s worse?” he asked. “This, or your 401 (k)?”

I figured it was a tossup.

But as the panelists —  a therapist, attorney, paramedic, youth detective and 6 articulate, probably quasi-angelic students — spoke, I thought of the Who song from my own teenage years:  “The Kids Are Alright.”

Sure, in Westport some (the majority? a lot? most?) smoke, drink, get high, have sex, drive like Jeff Gordon, and  instantly post photos of it all on Facebook.

Just like they do in New York, California and Utah. Especially Utah.

When I was at Staples, some of us did all that too (except Facebook).

But as the adults and teenagers talked about risky behavior — abusing Adderall, hooking up in basements, sending salacious photos by cellphone — other themes crept in. There was talk of how much these kids trust their parents, and confide in them. Of how far the police go not to arrest partying teens, even as their flashing lights scatter them like cockroaches. Of the fact that — though kids will always be kids — they’re being kids with  more designated drivers and common sense than ever before.

In the 1983  movie “Risky Business,” Tom Cruise threw a rager when his parents were out of town.  Last night, “Risky Behaviors” explored the same phenomenon. Twenty-six years from now, today’s teens will throw up their hands at their own kids’ antics.  Teenagers in 2035 will face similar perils, plus dangers yet unforeseen.

But I think their parents — the young people growing up in Westport today — will be well prepared for those challenges.  After all,  they’re being raised  in a community that respects them, values them, and will do all it can to help them succeed.

On second thought, they’ve got a much brighter future than my 401 (k).

7 responses to “Risky Business

  1. Dan,

    Congrats on this new venture–danwoog06880. For those of us who rely on your keen take on all things 06880 (and we all know how “virtual” those borders actually are nowadays) this is an exciting step forward! Thanks too for attending and highlighting last night’s SHS PTA’s Risky Behavior Forum. We are indebted to Patty Haberstroh of Positive Youth Development who puts together the panel and to the panelists, both adults and SHS students, who aim to provide parents with “the who, what, when, where and how” our teens are living their lives. The parents who attended, of current 8th graders to seniors, brought thoughtful questions and appreciated very much the honest and open answers they received from the panel. You reminded us, in your post, of some of the the best “nuggets” of the evening. Thank you! Anne Hardy & Lee Saveliff, SHS PTA Co-Presidents

  2. THANKS, Anne and Lee — much appreciated! I’m trying to find the right length for these posts — I’m glad you mentioned Patty, who was a superb organizer and moderator. She definitely deserves big props.

  3. This reminds me of an evening parents/students meeting that was organized by the Health teacher when I was at Staples. Best thing I ever heard in school after the parents were asked whether they would be OK with their children smoking marijuana if they smoked it when they were in high school. The father of a friend of mine said, “When I was his age, I was racing moonshine across Texas and in lieu of payment I was allowed to race the cars in the Stockcar races on the weekend. I wouldn’t want him doing that either.”

  4. As the mother of a 15 year old, I have learned a great deal about how the teens in this town currently operate — and compare it to my high school days in the ’70’s. A new twist was how texting can inform every teen in town where the hot party is . . . leading to scores of uninvited kids crashing parties. I agree the big difference is how close we are to our kids and how more careful they seem. Moreover, I see kids reach out to friends who are veering off-course. Most impressive.

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