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Affluenza: Are parents shortchanging teens

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Affluenza is a term coined in the defense of a 16-year-old Texas boy who recklessly killed people while driving drunk. The defense commented that the boy’s parents had not taught him that actions had consequences. The courts agreed and sentenced the boy to 10 years of parole and residential treatment.

While this may shock many, it drives home the issue that parents, not the courts, are responsible for teaching teens how to behave in society. At 16, the boy is still capable of learning right from wrong. He will have to live with the fact that his reckless behavior took the lives of others. However, in residential treatment, he will receive that guidance and training his parents did not supply.

Prison is not the answer for troubled teens. Prison life reinforces reckless behavior and perpetuates the cycle. Warehousing troubled teens in prison is an easy fix, but it is not the answer. Most teenagers can recover and outgrow their reckless behavior with counseling and guidance. This can prevent a cycle of crime in a teen that has not been properly taught right from wrong.

Parents are the first to notice that their teen’s behavior is unacceptable and dangerous. When you see this behavior in your teen, do not ignore it. Seek help from professionals. Start with the school guidance counselor and your teen’s pediatrician. Follow up with counseling sessions for your teen and your family. Break the cycle before it escalates to the behavior exhibited in the 16-year-old Texas boy.

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