Teens underestimate dangers of risky behavior


photo illustration by Paige Kiehl

Anna Wright

photo illustration by Paige Kiehl
photo illustration by Paige Kiehl

As I sat in my first hour Spanish class, I listened, annoyed and disinterested, to the same shallow conversation I had overheard so many times before. The guy next to me was leaning forward in his seat toward the girl in front of him, blabbering far too loud about some party over the weekend where the cops showed up. The two were laughing about how “crazy” it all was, reminiscing on this grand and wholesome memory of irresponsible behavior and illegal underage drinking. Talk about how they made this sound glamorous, or nothing unusual

While I personally don’t drink, I’m not going to shame other teenagers for choosing to do so.  I think that as long as you’re being safe and responsible, and are willing to face the consequences of your actions- including legal ones- it’s ultimately your own business. So, though it was irritating to hear these two drone on about their alcoholic endeavors as if it made them cool or interesting, I really could have cared less.  However, it was the next thing the boy said, with a cocky smile on his face and a twinge of arrogance in his voice, that really sent me over the edge.

“Yeah, I made sure not to go on I-70 driving home. I wasn’t really drunk, but I was like halfway there.”

At this point, it was all I could do not to throw myself across my desk and punch him square in the throat.

I stared at him, baffled by what I could only perceive as a mix of selfishness, carelessness and sheer stupidity.  Underage drinking is one thing, but drunk driving is entirely different. The first is an activity which can be done safely; though it alcohol can lead to abuse and ruin one’s liver without risking the physical well-being of others, but the latter endangers every single life around you, including your own.

Everyone knows of the serious risks posed by driving under the influence, and this kid was no exception. Tipsy or not, he knew getting behind the wheel of his car that he could have easily killed someone that night. However, in some strange twist of morality and consciousness, he bypassed the options of calling a friend, staying where he was, or even, in the most desperate scenario possible, calling his parents. Any of these options would have been far wiser than stepping on the gas pedal and thoughtlessly running the risk of killing a five year old watching Dora in the backseat of her mom’s minivan, or a husband and father of three coming home from a late night business trip.

The horrific nature of his decision aside, he didn’t even seem to recognize the mistake he had made. There he was, boasting about the success of his tipsy trip home, as if his actions were completely justified, or impressive, even.

Maybe this all sounds harsh; I hope it does. Drunken driving should never be discussed in the manner which I overheard. It’s appalling.

Hearing this conversation made me realize that maybe high schoolers don’t yet understand the weight of their actions. It seems that all too often we possess that “invincible” mindset,  disregarding the likely consequences of our decisions. We want to be treated like adults and enjoy adult privileges, such as consuming alcohol.  But if you can’t handle the responsibility that comes with these activities, then put down your can of beer and allow me to welcome you to the real world.

By Anna Wright