LA Times Op-Ed on Amnesty Policies

Caroline Cook, a junior at Miramonte High School in Orinda, CA, wrote an op-ed this week for the Los Angeles Times that called on the state legislature to explore amnesty policies for young adults who seek medical help for intoxicated friends. Cook was a good friend of Joe Loudon, a Miramonte sophomore who passed away after a night of drinking last May. Cook wrote,

“There was alcohol at the party where Joe died. The coroner found that he had been drinking — though not enough to be legally drunk — but didn’t determine a cause of death. A lot of people in town believe that Joe died, at least in part, because other underage drinkers at the party were reluctant to call 911 for fear of being punished…

Of course, it might be better if teenagers didn’t drink, but they do, and that isn’t likely to change. In Northern California, where I live, the 2007 California Healthy Kids Survey found widespread alcohol consumption by students in my high-achieving high school district. Thirty-eight percent of ninth-graders and 68% of 11th-graders admitted consuming alcohol at least once, with 22% and 43%, respectively, having consumed alcohol within the last 30 days. In Los Angeles County, the survey found that 48% of ninth-graders and 63% of 11th-graders had imbibed; 28% and 36% respectively within the last 30 days. These numbers are not far out of line with national statistics.”

Cook also noted that problems occur as a result of the gap between messaging and perception: “Teens are often skeptical of the warnings they’ve received about the dangers of alcohol, and so don’t recognize when someone is in immediate and critical need of help.”

What do you think? Check out the rest of her piece and leave your feedback in the comments.

2 Responses to “LA Times Op-Ed on Amnesty Policies”

  1. Edwin Says:

    The drinking age must be lowered to 18 along with an alcohol education program. Parents would be influential in helping young women and young men in instilling alcohol responsibility if the correct solutions were implemented which also include licensing. Joe, in the article, shouldn’t have died but because some girls and boys do drink alcohol, medical amnesty policies are needed. Every Young woman, young man, girl, and boy must know that alcohol abuse is dangerous. Responsibility is the best policy.

  2. Ajax the Great Says:

    I believe the drinking age should be lowered to 18, with 18-20 year olds having the same drinking rights that 21 year olds currently enjoy. However, if they must keep the drinking age at 21, an amnesty policy definitely makes it a lot less pharisaical, and may even save some lives that are lost as a result of forcing alcohol use by 18-20 year olds underground.