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HAGELIN: Are teens or parents the problem?
Question of the Day
Culture challenge of the week: Teens on the loose
Teenage vandalism. It’s a common, typically local problem that doesn’t generally garner much attention.
But when 300 teens broke into a former NFL player’s vacation home and trashed it, it created headlines — but not for the reason you might suspect.
Brian Holloway, who played for the New England Patriots and the L.A. Raiders, owns a vacation home in upstate New York. He and his family (he has eight children) enjoyed many happy summers at the home and were welcome members of the local community. But on Labor Day weekend, when the family was back home in Florida, local teens broke into the unoccupied home and held a giant party, using social media to spread the word. They drank, smoke, used drugs, damaged the home and stole things, ultimately causing $20,000 in damage.
As Mr. Holloway’s eldest daughter, Yvette, said in a video message, “This affected all of us. This was crazy that kids would do this. These kids knew us, used to come over to the house and hang out. [But] Bringing kegs into this home and spray-painting the house and passing it on Twitter, just unbelievable.”
The teens apparently felt little guilt about breaking into the home and trashing it, because during the party they posted messages and photos about their partying — leaving behind a digital record of what happened.
Mr. Holloway used the teens’ own photos and messages to call them to account for their behavior — and that was what made headlines. He created a website, helpmesave300, posted the students’ images and Twitter messages, and asked them to come forward, with their parents, and make amends for their misdeeds.
Only four students responded. Worse, some parents of the vandalizing teens threatened to sue him for posting their teens’ photos from the party — even though the teens themselves made the photos public.
Even after Mr. Holloway offered teens a second opportunity to come forward — or risk prosecution — few responded. (The messages and photos made it fairly easy, with community input, to identify hundreds of the vandals.)
Mr. Holloway strongly wants parents — and communities — to “teach our kids to be accountable” and to mend their ways. He has seen the damage in sports circles of young potential cut short by addictions. He wants something different for the 300. “I want them to live. I’ve seen too many young people die because of excessing [sic] partying, drugs and alcohol.”
Unfortunately, most of the teens involved are unwilling to admit their wrongs. But they will pay the price, one way or another.
Mr. Holloway has asked the sheriff to move forward and press charges. As of this writing, six young people have been arrested, but the eventual arrests could be in the hundreds.
How to save your family: Parents, take control
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