Sober teen punished for helping friend, keeping roads safe
Tina Grady Barbaccia | October 17, 2013
I thought the idea was to make roads safer.
It’s a fact: Teenagers do stupid things. We all do.
However, this is ridiculous. And this wasn’t stupid – at least not on the part of 17-year-old honor student Erin Cox, captain of the North Andover (Massachusetts) High School volleyball team.
When Cox received a phone call from a drunken friend asking if Cox would pick her up from a party, she did what a good friend would do.
Cox was completely sober. She had just finished work and was with friends at a yogurt shop when she received the call. Her friend in need called, and Cox went to help out.
But now she is in trouble for helping a friend – and helping to keep her safe. According to a Boston Herald report, Cox arrived to pick up her friend from the party where underage drinking was taking place just minutes before police arrived.
Police confirmed that Cox was sober, but her high school suspended her from five volleyball games and demoted her from team captain, according to the report. The school claims that Cox is violating the school’s zero-tolerance policy toward drugs and alcohol.
What?? I don’t condone underage drinking. But more than that, I don’t condone driving under the influence, which is why I am baffled and appalled by the school’s decision.
So Cox simply going to pick up a friend means she’s violating school policy? I disagree. Cox was helping a friend, who yes, broke the law, and yes, was irresponsible for drinking underage. However, I commend both Cox and her friend (whose name was not given in the news reports) for trying to stay safe.
I was told and I will tell my children to be responsible. Of course, I don’t want them drinking underage. They are young now, but when or if it is ever an issue, I want them to call me if they need a ride home. I don’t care what time or the day or night it is; I will come get them. My parents told me the same thing.
When my boys are older, if I give one of their friends a ride home because he or she was irresponsible, am I condoning underage drinking? No! I’m trying to help that person be responsible.
Yes, I will talk to their parents. Yes, I may think twice about letting that person drive my kids to events. However, I will be grateful that I am trusted enough to pick up either my child or someone else. I’ll be grateful that my child or child’s friend will be alive and won’t endanger others on the road.
No doubt, drunk driving kills. In America on average, nearly 12,000 people die every year in DUI-related accidents and 900,000 people are arrested each year for DUI/DWI, according to DrinkingandDriving.org.
The gist of this is teaching children responsibility. It’s not OK that Cox’s friend was drinking. But the friend was trying to be responsible by calling Cox, who was also trying to act responsibly.
When Cox was suspended, she couldn’t believe it. “But I wasn’t drinking,” she told the Boston Herald. “And I felt like going to get her was the right thing to do.”
Instead of being commended, she was punished.
Her parents took the school to court, according to the Boston Herald. However, the court ruled it didn’t have jurisdiction over the school’s decision, so Cox was left sitting out from games for trying to help a friend.
Geoffrey Bok, an attorney for the high school, told the Boston Herald that “the school is really trying to take a very serious and principled stand regarding alcohol.”
How is trying to keep a friend – and others on the roads – safe defying this initiative?
It’s not Cox who used poor judgment but the school, and I’m very troubled by this.
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