Lamorinda, and communities throughout our suburbs, have long tried to deal with an out-of-control teen party scene

For a long time, some parents in Lamorinda have tried to get a handle on a teen party scene that involves binge drinking, property destruction, violence, and dangerous, self-destructive behavior.

That’s according to this July 2006 story in Diablo magazine, which chronicled how Lamorinda parents, after some disturbing out-of-control teen parties, had decided to come together to work on an Acalanes Union High School District program called Healthy Choices.

This effort by Lamorinda parents becomes relevant in the wake of news about the death Saturday of 16-year-old Joseph Loudon at an Orinda party. He was one of a crowd of high school and college students attending a party at an Orinda home, at which the homeowners were not present. Authorities suspect Loudon had been drinking heavily before he was found unconscious in the hallway of the home.

According to Diablo magazine, Healthy Choices was “the latest effort by parents to confront drug and alcohol use among students in this district, which covers a swath of suburbia known for its prosperous neighborhoods and top-ranked schools. …”

Healthy Choices has tried to bundle its substance abuse prevention message “into a comprehensive program that aims to help teens make good choices, not just about alcohol and drugs but also about sex, nutrition, exercise, and managing stress.”

Healthy Choices advocates were also trying to change “attitudes among
parents.” Those interviewed by Diablo said that the “majority of parents don’t realize the extent to which students are drinking and using drugs—or they choose to ignore it. …

“This might seem surprising,” the Diablo story continues, “considering that many parents in this district tend to be super-involved in nurturing their children’s success. But, as [one parent says], ‘this is a make-no-waves community,’ where some parents don’t want to know if their kids aren’t being model citizens.”
A 2007 Healthy Kids survey shows that 29 percent of 11th graders, and 12 percent of 9th graders, in the Acalanes district had engaged in binge drinking in the past 30 days. The survey also showed that 48 percent of 11th graders, and 22 percent of 9th graders, had been very drunk or sick after drinking. Overall, 43 percent of 11th graders, and 22 percent of 9th graders had used alcohol in the past 30 days.
Acalanes is one of the districts statewide that participate in West-Ed’s Healthy Kids survey which looks at students’ alcohol and drug use, violence on campus, and other issues related to student health and safety. About 1,200 9th graders in the district, or 86 percent, participated in the survey; 1,187, or 82 percent of 11th graders participated in the survey. You can look up survey results on other East Bay surban districts here.

Some might roll their eyes at parents getting all hyper-vigilante about teen behavior.
After all, we all partied in high school, right? Of course, my perspective in much different now, because I am a mother, and I can’t imagine what it must be like to be the parents of Joseph Loudon.

4 thoughts on “Lamorinda, and communities throughout our suburbs, have long tried to deal with an out-of-control teen party scene

  1. Actually, I didn’t “party” in high school, if by partying you mean going to wild parties and getting drunk. I was very active in my church youth group and we did many things…parties, camping trips, weekend retreats. My parents were loving and supportive, and we did many things together as a family. This provided a stable foundation upon which my sister and I have built our lives. We now have four children between us, ranging in age from 13 to 21, and none of them “party” either.

    It really isn’t rocket science. It does require effort on the part of the parents to be involved in their kid’s lives. It also requires that you build your life on a foundation of something other than yourself…it doesn’t have to be a religion either, as long as the entire focus of your life is not yourself.


  2. I’m sure I’m out of touch, not being a parent myself, but this seems like a really large number of young kids to be doing binge drinking: “A 2007 Healthy Kids survey shows that 29 percent of 11th graders, and 12 percent of 9th graders, in the Acalanes district had engaged in binge drinking in the past 30 days.”

    I’m a Baby Boomer who grew up in the Midwest, and I suppose shyness prevented me from doing much hard-core partying. I never even touched beer, pot or mixed drinks til college. (Still don’t like the taste of beer.)

    Besides the associated risks to health and property and the associated risks of DUI or outright death, heavy drinking among girls carries the added risk of risky sex. And now with cell phones, IM and Twitter, the small casual parties of yesteryear quickly mushroom into huge gatherings of strangers that get out of hand, with kids bringing in more booze and drugs, and sometimes leading to thefts, trashing of the home, and a kind of “safety in numbers” and group mentality effect.

    I was going to say one of the best antidotes for all the above is athletics, especially for the girls, and just a general sense of purpose. But I think that’s only part of it. Everyone deserves to have fun and needs a sense of belonging, but why for some kids does that mean drinking til they pass out? Is it partly just youth and ignorance of how much alcohol can be unsafe?


  3. p.s. to my above post: I really like the comments that Anon 10:13 made about a foundation; parents’ involvement; and a foundation to one’s lives. I didn’t notice that post til after I’d created mine. – Anon 11:04


  4. I have to say as the mom of a 14-year old, it is already starting. I've caught my sons friends experimenting already. And engaging in some weird activities, like staged fights between friends, punishing activities which cause bruising, bleeding and other animal-like behavior.
    This isn't to mention the sneaking out at night to make out with girls at the park, and toilet papering friend's homes. It all starts in middle school- and the plethora of ostrich-like parents in this community that choose to ignore their children's bad choices are going to be terribly sorry- because it only escalates as they get older.


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