To the Editor,
I, as a parent, have experienced one of the worst possible fears involving one of my children.
On April 29th while I was in Bend, my daughter (whom I am going to talk about today) was babysitting a young child. My cell phone rang; someone on the other end stated that my 13-year-old had been arrested. At the time, I did not hear why. A feeling of anxiousness overwhelmed me. Why was my 13-year-old arrested? She had never been in trouble. She was a responsible young adult.
I called the dispatch center in Madras to find out that she not only had been arrested, she was unconscious and being transported to Mountain View Hospital. Now, as a parent, panic set in. I am asking myself: Why was she unconscious? What was happening? They would not release any more information to me because they were unsure of who she was, nonetheless who I was.
I immediately returned to Madras, heading towards Mountain View Hospital. I arrived at the emergency room to find my daughter laying on a gurney, foaming at the mouth, unable to open her eyes, unable to speak to me. I am now asking myself again: What was happening? How did this happen? She is a good girl.
After speaking with the officer, I found that she had been given a gift for her 13th birthday from a family member (not an immediate family member), an aunt who has an alcohol problem. This gift was a bottle of tequila. My daughter drank half the bottle to celebrate her birthday! Unable to fathom this information, I asked people: What do you mean she drank half a bottle of tequila? Who in their right mind would give a minor who is babysitting any alcohol? What is going on here?
As my daughter lay in the hospital with a blood alcohol level of .35, she was recovering from her night of almost dying in front of my eyes. I later find out that this is not the first time she has tried alcohol. She has tried a beverage, a Smirnoff wine cooler, which is a clear liquid, much like the tequila she drank. Her thinking was, of course it is the same and I did not have any bad affects from the Smirnoff. She almost died.
As a parent, you teach your children right from wrong and hope they are able to stand up to peer pressures when it comes to alcohol or any other type of drug. You have faith that they will make the right decisions. But, to receive pressure and encouragement from an adult that it is OK to drink is not acceptable.
Alcohol is easily accessible to youths and young adults already. Especially when given by an adult, let alone a trusted adult. This again is unacceptable. As a small community, I recommend that parents, friends, family members and the community in general band together and attack this problem head on. Putting your head in the sand doesn't help. Being in denial doesn't help.
Education and responsibility start at home. It needs to continue within the community, too. We as a community need to step up the education and accountability to all who supply alcohol or any other drug to our children. Our children also need to be held responsible.
It is a crime to supply minors with alcohol, drugs, etc. Let's enforce it! Let's not let people off with a slap on the hand. They need to know that supplying alcohol and drugs to minors is a serious and intolerable act. It is more than a crime.
If you think (as I did) that your kids are not trying new things, like alcohol or drugs when you are not with them, please take the time to think again. My daughter has some very nice girlfriends of very prominent families within the community and they have all tried alcohol. Keeping children busy is not enough. Know the persons they are with, know what they are doing at all times. Be nosey, talk to them, question them, they will respect and love you for keeping them safe. I could have lost my daughter for good.