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Whiskey bongs, popularity contests and neglect

March 12, 2008 - Betsy Bethel
I don't know which is worse:

That a Moundsville couple allegedly ignored an underage drinking party in their home and then cleaned up the evidence of alcohol before calling 911 after a boy (not theirs) died ...

OR, that the dead boy's father told a local TV station the couple shouldn't be charged and that he wouldn't have acted any differently.

What?! Your 17-year-old son is DEAD! And you wouldn't have acted differently?

OK, let's back up. We've probably all known parents who let kids drink at their houses. Their view usually is they'd rather have the kids at home than out who-knows-where. But when I was a teen, these permissive parents stuck around for the party or at least checked in on the kids to make sure things didn't get too out of hand. They also didn't let anyone drive home from the party.

The Steveys allegedly arrived home, acknowledged the party and went to bed.

Either way, whether you hang with the kids or not, there's a term for this kind of behavior: Neglect, and it's a crime. Why is it a crime? Because, for one, it places children in danger and can even lead to death.

Maybe YOU can identify with the Steveys. Maybe you have let your kids and their friends have beer bashes at your house. Maybe you never wanted to be too strict because your parents were so strict with you. Maybe you wanted to be the "cool" parents who drank or allowed drinking at your house. Maybe you take pride in the fact your teenagers' friends get drunk in your living room.

But, I have news for you: It's not about YOU! When a person becomes a parent, he or she should be made to sign away selfishness. Your energy is supposed to be spent nurturing, molding and loving the human being that has half your DNA. Forget about popularity contests and your old childhood hangups. Don't try to live vicariously through your children. In other words, wise up and get a life! I'm not a betting woman, but I'd bet a nickel that's not the first time you've heard that advice.

Yes, Chaz Lightner reportedly shot a fifth of whiskey through a beer bong. He wasn't forced. I'm not saying the boy is blameless. But for Chaz's father to stick up for the Steveys is abominable. His father called it a stupid dare, a stupid bet. Yes, it was. But the Steveys should be held accountable for their actions and inactions. The fact they allowed the party is a crime in itself, and then strike two (in my book) is they didn't monitor it. Strike three: Covering up the alcohol evidence after discovering Chaz's lifeless body.

Once again, it's people covering their own butts, thinking only of themselves. If Mr. Lightner really does believe that the Steveys didn't do anything he wouldn't have done, then the prosecutor should bring charges against him as well.

As my colleague said after hearing the father's comments (I paraphrase): With a father like that, the boy was destined to die young.


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