Parents, face reality: Your beloved children are growing up in an alcohol-fueled culture. Not good for your children. Not good for our community. And not good for society at large.
Consider a recent weekend in our neighborhood near USC:
Early Friday evening, a young, raucous crowd assembled at the rental property next door. The thumping base of the loud music penetrated the brick walls of our home, making it difficult to enjoy conversation, TV or sleep.
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Usually, the frat boys party into the wee hours unless a neighbor calls the police. For years, we did not call, thinking they should be out catching thieves — and because we didn’t want to get these kids in trouble. But polite requests to take the party indoors had little effect. Worse, civility has waned over the 16 years that frat boys have lived next door.
In response to our inquiry midday Saturday as to when they planned to clean up the beer cans and party trash, one tenant snarled that we should clean it up ourselves.
At around 3 o’clock Sunday morning, we received a series of alcohol-influenced texts that are too filthy to quote here. They impugned our sexual attributes and preferences, our bodies, our professional abilities and the way we keep our home — in graphic, gutter language.
That same weekend, 10-15 young people hooted and hollered their way to Five Points. It’s great that they travel in groups. Not so great that they don’t know, and perhaps don’t care, that they disturb all the homes they pass. On the return trip, one peeled off to urinate on the side of my neighbor’s car. Not good for the paint finish, but what did he care?
Shortly thereafter, a lone, drunk man banged on my front door. Before we could answer, he lurched around the yard looking for another entrance. Then back to the front door, where I explained he was at the wrong house.
How vulnerable was that young man? Robberies, physical assaults and even murder have occurred near these college bars. One boy died in horrific fashion when he tried to climb between the cars of a train stopped near Five Points. Another young fellow drank himself to death in his own front yard two weeks after passing out there from an earlier binge.
Alcohol is often involved in date rapes, and I’ve seen firsthand the beaten face and body of a young girl separated from her friends in a Five Points bar and raped by a sexual predator. Her friends were too busy drinking to make sure she got home safely.
Unfortunately, events such as these are the new norm.
Yes, we are appalled by the way these young people are disturbing our neighborhood and our lives. We are more appalled by what they are doing to themselves. The young working people moving into our neighborhood are just as appalled as us older residents. Forget the generational issues and just focus on the behavior we are witnessing.
We can no longer stand silent regarding the negative impact alcohol has on our children and our society — risky behavior, incivility, wrecked relationships and lack of productivity at school and at work. Parents, schools, universities, police and politicians all need to do their parts to guide these young people to a better road.
Mom/Dad, we know you don’t want your kids to engage in this sort of risky, uncivilized behavior. So please, talk plainly with them about these risks. Start taking away privileges when you see the warning signs. The universities have programs to address these problems, and the police try to enforce the laws in ways that don’t ruin your child’s future. Perhaps they can do more. Perhaps local governments can adopt better laws and regulations.
But the path away from responsible drinking and toward alcohol abuse starts at home. The fall semester has begun. The time to talk is now.
Ms. Lucas is a Columbia attorney who is active in her neighborhood association; contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.