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What can be done about teen drinking & drinking/driving

Original post made by Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Nov 2, 2006

Now may be a good time to get this community to focus on some positive ideas to help all of us in these two very important issues. I say two issues, because they are similar but not always the same. I have two teens, one driving, one about to start learning. The older one does not have their own car, does not drive to school on a regular basis and knows that driving is a privilege which can be lost. We have an 11.00 curfew because that is the law and although there are times when that is blown for a few minutes (I don't want any speeding), I acknowledge that it is flexible. However, continued flouting of that rule means loss of driving privilege. No rides can be given to friends (it is the law until the license is 12 months) and a phone call is required when reaching the destination. As far as alcohol is concerned, if there is any alcohol or drugs at any venue, then that is not acceptable and my teens have to leave or call me to pick them up. I must always know where they are and who they are with. Cell phones make it much easier for them to keep in touch than it was for me when I was their age and had similar restrictions.

We have had a serious incident in our community recently and once again as parents we must bond together and help each other. Any ideas and information which can be shared will be welcome but we don't want to hear any negative comments about recent events, leave that to another thread.

Thank you.

Comments (6)

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Posted by Another parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 3, 2006 at 2:36 pm

One thing our kids need in their spare time is fun and somewhere to hangout. In my day it was the local youth club. From listening to some of those on this Forum who grew up around here, there used to be a lot of things for our youth to do. Now it seems from another post here that the bowling alley is going too. My kids have spent plenty of time hanging out there. They have been to costume bowling parties at Halloween, birthday bowling parties, disco bowl, etc. and most recently for the past couple of summers have had the opportunity to bowl one game a day free and then of course spent time (and money) eating snacks and using the arcade. If this place goes, the local youth have lost another good hangout place. If we can't provide some local "safe" places to hang out, then these young adolescents will find their own place to "party" and then the drinking will follow, probably with drugs, and the drinking/driving problem will kick in.

What the kids need is something to do weekend evenings that is healthy and safe. Please don't take away all these venues. They need to learn to be independent and act responsibly. They can't if there's nowhere for them to go.


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Posted by Carlos
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 3, 2006 at 2:55 pm

From the post "The things I remember about Palo Alto while growing up: Web Link

Here is a listing of the kid-friendly venues from that post that are no longer with us:
- Palo Alto Drive-In Movie Theater
- The Century Liquor store strip was a roller rink
- Bowling at the Indian Bowl on Emerson Bowl
- Chuck Thompson's swim club next to the winter lodge
- Slot car racing track
- Palo Alto Yacht Harbor
- Sitting on the balcony at Swensen's Ice Cream
- The haunted house they always put on at the Lucy Stern center
- Sea Scout building
- Movie Theatre on California Ave
- Varsity Theater on University Ave. gave away BIKES to the kids . .
- Swimming at Cubberly's pool in the summer
- Fireworks at the PA Baylands
- Halloween at the Fire circle
- Old Mill Theaters

Perhaps there used to be more things for the kids to do.


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Posted by J
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2006 at 9:05 pm

I agree that teens need things to do. As a person who has posted many items on the "way Palo Alto used to be" page...I can also say that nothing was more of a priority -especially our senior year, than drinking at a house party. There was a "teen center" night that the city put on at Mitchell park - but for the most part- we went there to see who was out and to find out where the parties were. We also hung out at Pizza A GoGo, but things were few and far between. I think it is more important that we educate our kids on how to be responsible as well as to really understand consequences. When I see some of these kids in beautiful new cars, text messaging and wearing $250 jeans- I wonder how much they are learning about consequence and the real world. I have to earn my own jeans. :-)

It is very hard to connect with the teen community. As a parks & rec employee for many years (not in PA anymore)- we were always trying to figure out how to engage teens. Yes, places to hang out are EXTREMELY important and I fully agree with that comment. You need the "right" people to be a friend & a mentor as well as be "cool" enough to hang out with. It's great for 11-14 year olds but we are very "uncool" for the 15 & up crowd. We tend to put more effort into the preteens because we feel we can "save" & educate them I guess. We lose them when they can drive. I encourage everyone to ask their children to get involved with their local parks & rec. Most have a Youth & Teen committees that plans events, etc. Also, it will give them something good for their college applications.

I think it is a combination of parent involvement and community support. "It takes a village to raise a child"


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Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2006 at 6:54 pm

I have just posed the question on another thread, but where do the teens get the money or the opportunity to get alcohol from. Are our teens getting too much money and freedom to allow this. I have heard many adults saying that they drank as teens, but where did they get their money and and opportunity for acquiring alcohol. I grew up in a middle class community, but certainly neither my friends or myself had money for this. Our money was spent on more lasting pleasures like make-up, records, busfares and hippy jewellery. Just to see a movie would cost me a week's allowance including the busfare to get there. I did do a lot of babysitting, but usually saved that so I could have money to spend at camps or to go swimming. My money was precious so I had to be careful how I spent it. Those who drank or smoked usually had to steal from their parents. So, is this where our teens are getting the money from, and if not, where? Or are we just giving them too much money, too much opportunity and not enough of a watchful eye on their freedoms?


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Posted by suzie
a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2006 at 4:08 pm

My children were in Palo Alto High Schools during the late '70s. Drinking was a problem in those days and parents were in denial as they are now....."not my kids...no way...never" I could not believe their attitude then and it seems worse these days.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 16, 2006 at 6:46 pm

According to PA Online, home page, there will be a forum to discuss this very issue on Nov. 30 at Lucie Stern. They want questions in advance. I think this is a very important topic and we should certainly do our best to attend and prepare ourselves in advance as to what questions we have.


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