To the point week of 6/7/07

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IF YOU’VE BEEN ANYWHERE BUT in a cave over the past couple of weeks, you know that this is the time when high schools and colleges and universities hold graduation ceremonies.

It’s a time when students begin to move into new phases of their lives, and in may cases, they move to from youth into adulthood.

But if you stay current on state and national news, you’ve also seen a sickening trend.

In Indianapolis alone, at least three sets of parents have been arrested and charged with providing alcohol to minors as part of a graduation party.

One of the parents, former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jack Trudeau, is facing both misdemeanor and felony charges after he was caught having a graduation party at his home that featured teens and alcohol.

When authorities asked him for a list of those in attendance at the party, he destroyed the list, which led to the felony charges.

It’s hard enough to get children to understand the dangers of alcohol at any time. We have seen emergency personnel hold mock disasters in the school parking lot before the prom. We see local police officers do presentations on driving impaired.

We watch news broadcasts of children who die way too young because of mixing alcohol and driving.

It’s hard enough to get kids to understand – and it’s even harder when the parents are giving their blessing to the parties and the booze.

Somewhere along the line, some adults have come to the conclusion that it’s more important to be their child’s friend than it is to be their parent.

Adults are afraid that their kids won’t “like them”, if they aren’t cooperative with alcohol at parties. Some feel that their child will be more popular with the “in crowd” if they provide the alcohol.

What they see as important gets clouded when children get injured or die – and adults get hauled to jail.

About 11:30 p.m. on Monday night, 17-year old Trey Kidwell and a friend got lost driving in the dark around Brookville Reservoir. They didn’t see the sign that told them that the road that they were on ended in the water, and once the car went into the lake, the passenger got out and ran to a house to call for help - but by the time help arrived, Trey Kidwell had drowned.

It was an accident. No alcohol was involved, just two lost kids who went down the wrong road and ended with tragedy.

Trey Kidwell would have been a senior this fall at Centerville High School, where I graduated from. His dad, Dennis, was a classmate and good friend of mine.

I cannot imagine the sense of loss that he and his wife have today. In fact, the entire community is still trying to come to grips with this tragedy.

As more and more information comes in, I can’t help but think about the children that this community has lost way before their time, and the sorrow that they have left behind.

I don’t know what Dennis Kidwell is going through today, but I do know that each of us is here for only a brief time – a vapor in the wind, here today and gone tomorrow.

What I will never understand is why parents, in an effort to look “cool”, allow their children and other people’s children to drink alcohol and then go home.

Day after day we hear that it is happening, and day after day we continue to dodge the bullet that will someday return this community to the deep sorrow that we have experienced in the past.

Children have the rest of their lives to decide whether or not they want to drink alcohol – let’s not push them along for the sake of popularity.

It’s a risk we don’t need to take.