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).