I know young people can be stupid – I was once one of them. The hope is that they will survive anyway and maybe become a little less stupid. And I know that parents can’t keep their kids from being stupid. But if they do their job right they can usually keep the stupidity from being fatal.
Then I read a story showing neither the kids nor the parents understood what I just wrote.
Two teenagers were injured and three teenagers died this week in northern Wisconsin. In a car crash. But you probably already guessed that part. A car that was going too fast. But you probably already guessed that part too.
It gets worse.
The occupants included a 16 year-old girl, a 15 year-old boy, a 14 year-old boy, a 13 year-old girl and a 13 year-old boy. The car belonged to the family of the 16 year-old girl. She had the car with the permission of her family. She had a graduated driver’s license that limited her to only one passenger. She had four. She probably was the only one in the car with a license to drive it.
She wasn’t driving.
She let the 14 year-old boy drive the car. (No, he did not have a license. Of course he didn’t have a license: he was a 14 year-old eighth grader.) He drove very fast. Faster than 80 miles per hour. He crashed. He died. So did his 13 year-old girlfriend. And the 15 year-old boy. The other two passengers were hospitalized with undisclosed injuries.
Let’s reiterate for emphasis. A 14 year-old eighth grade boy was driving a car full of teenagers at speeds of more than 80 miles per hour on a rural road. He crashed, killing himself, one of his friends, his pregnant 13 year-old girlfriend, and injuring two others.
What!?! His 13 year-old girlfriend was pregnant?? And they were out joy riding instead of staying at home where they belonged having been grounded for life???
Maybe I’m being unkind. Maybe the parents didn’t know. Maybe the kids had busted out of home detention. I re-read the article. Yes, the parents knew.
Where does one begin? Let’s see: your 13 year-old daughter gets pregnant. Or your 14 year-old son gets someone pregnant. The normal parental response is not, “Cool! Go party some more!” The normal parental response is: you are grounded for life.
I don’t know why they weren’t. I don’t know why the parents of a 16 year-old with a limited license would let their daughter drive around illegally carrying more passengers than allowed by her license. I don’t get it.
I really don’t get it.
I’m not making light of the tragedy. I’m trying to get my head around people who think it’s okay for their kids to be stupid and not try to stop them.
Because we’re talking about up to ten parents. Ten allegedly grown-up people not one of whom said: no, you’re not going joy riding with a bunch of your friends because it’s not only stupid, IT’S AGAINST THE LAW AND YOU COULD DIE.
Instead, apparently with parental consent, 5 young people were tooling around rural roads at high speeds at 6:49 on a weekday evening instead of being at home, eating dinner with their families and then doing their homework. And apparently it wasn’t the first time. According to law enforcement, “there’s an indication the five occupants of the vehicle may have previously driven in the area.”
I can’t get past the fact that the parents knew. The bereaved mother of the dead girl said, “She told me she loved me as she ran out the door last night, so that was good.” Her pregnant, 13 year-old, eighth-grade daughter running out the door on a week night to jump in a car with the baby’s daddy and other friends? (Or non-pregnant, I don’t care. No way does an eighth grader need to be running around with anybody on a school night. )
Or the relative of the dead girl who said, “I hope it shows kids that they need to not be stupid when they drive, to wear your seat belt and pay attention to what you’re doing, because things like this happen.”
What?!? We already know they’re going to be stupid. They can’t help it, they’re kids. That’s why they have parents. Because “things like this” don’t just “happen.” “Things like this happen” when parents aren’t doing their jobs. And the job means kids learn to always wear seat belts. And not to drive a car unless they have a license to operate it. And if they have a restricted license then they follow the restrictions. Or they walk. They might get mad and call you names. They might hate you. So what.
They’ll be alive.