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Should adults permit supervised underage drinking?

Original post made by Peter Carpenter on Dec 3, 2011

There have been a number of Forum threads that resulted from a recent incident in Menlo Park involving underage drinking under adult supervision. Since this forum is intended to be " a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion" perhaps it would be useful to discuss this issue without reference to any specific incident.

1 - Do you think that it is OK to break the law, i.e. to permit underage people to drink alcoholic beverages with adult supervision ?

2- Is it a good thing to permit underage people to drink alcoholic beverages with adult supervision ?

My view on the first question is that we live in a democratic society which has agreed to a body of laws and that we therefore are expected to obey those laws. If we disagree with a specific law we can advocate for a change in that law.

On the second question the data that I can find clearly shows that it is NOT a good idea to permit underage people to drink alcoholic beverages with adult supervision.

Web Link

"youngsters who drank in front of adults were more likely to have drinking problems several years later than those who abstained."

"Kids need parents to be parents and not drinking buddies. Adults need to be clear about what messages they are sending. Kids need black and white messages early on. Such messages will help reinforce limits as teens get older and opportunities to drink increase,"

What are your views on the first question and what data can you provide on the second question?

Comments (82)

Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Peter,

I remember the first time I supplied and drank alcohol with my daughter, it was her 21st birthday.

The law is very simple, if people have trouble with this law they probably have trouble with many laws.

Parenting is very simple, do what is best for your children, set the example, you are not their friends, you are their parents.

I do not think it is ok to break the law.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 3, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I think that what parents do with their children in their home, as long as it's not abusive, is up to them. But that means THEIR kids in their OWN home. Not other kids and not in other peoples homes. That is as much gray area as I believe in. Otherwise minors should not be supplied alcohol by adults.

As an asside, I personally feel the drinking age being set at 21 is pretty stupid. We allow 18 year olds to vote and it's OK to send them to fight and die for this country, but it's not OK for them to drink? That seems a pretty stupid diconnect to me and it ought to be changed.

That said, I did not give my son any alcohol until he was 21. Of course, he went to CU Boulder and I know darn well he was drinking before he was 21. That doesn't make it right, but it's reality.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Dec 4, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I'm pretty much w/Menlo Voter on this. I however don't think a lower drinking age is necessarily a good idea, although I understand his points very well.

When I was younger, I visited a friend on a marine corps base. I bought alcohol for a bunch of them as I was of age & they weren't. I, a female, hid in the shower stall when the officer of the day made his rounds to these male-only barracks. There was nothing sexual going on at all, but I knew that I'd get in trouble for being there even if they couldn't prove I'd bought up alcohol. I have no idea how much trouble they'd get into for having the alcohol. I recall thinking the officer of the day knew there was drinking going on but just looked the other way - there was a war on & these gents were soon to be shipped off. So I really witnessed that irony that they could fight & die but not buy up.

I think allowing drinking at home w/one's kids & close friends used to be a safer option than it's become (given social networking, technology, lack of privacy, litigiousness & current laws - plus, of course, some police tactics). I sympathize w/parents who choose this option because it sure beats many other dangerous scenarios & yet, look at this most recent outcome - the adults sure fared much worse than the kids.

But when it comes to the kids' of others, that's dicey. It depends on the parents' relationship w/the other parents & kids, if an agreement was made about the get together & other factors. But as many kids as were over at the Burnett's house - that's a lot of responsibility & stress that I wouldn't want. I understand & again, sympathize w/why they did what they did, but a larger gathering is opportunity for so many out of control factors, incl the cops.

I think that parents need to be very cautious when they sponsor drinking at home - there are a lot of factors to take into consideration in order to decide if it's worth the potential risks vs. the risks that your child will take in order to have fun outside the home.


Posted by R.Gordon, a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2011 at 10:02 am

R.Gordon is a registered user.

Only to those who have served in Iraq or any service for this country.
Doubtful that would make the amount 40 teens.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2011 at 6:06 am

As James Baldwin has said, "Children have never been very good at listening to their elders but have never failed to imitate them."


Posted by Robert, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Dec 6, 2011 at 9:33 am

Robert is a registered user.

3 comments:
1. I agree - anyone who serves in the military should be able to drink. If they can carry a weapon and give their life for the rest of us - no issue. I still want that law approved and have fought to get it.
2. Menlo Voter - for the most part I agree with you - except yesterday with "smarty pants" I think our youth today need to take a stand - just like you and I did in our day,. I am not saying by any stretch I agree with him on all points - but I agree he needs to take a stand that supports his POV. That is what will shape our future and he is very articulate.
3. One simple point keeps getting missed. If ANYONE disagrees with the laws - then they need to write those who make the laws and/or vote them out. Welcome to the USA - we make out own laws and we then are expected to follow them - not choose what laws we want to follow.

When I was growing up we certainly broke laws. But.... we did not take the stance it was and is wrong - we did something about it when we could. I expect the same out of those who have weighed in on the Burnett issue brought before us.


Posted by Ted, a resident of Atherton: other
on Dec 6, 2011 at 12:18 pm

There is a difference between moderation and abuse. In a supervised setting, 18+ (not younger) can be taught to drink responsibly. As teenager, working construction, a beer or two was the beverage of choice at the end of the day. But we were supervised. Some people have the genes that allow them to stop, others don't else everyone would be in rehab. Too bad everyone must suffer for those who can't hold it. The T-totalers will say to not serve ever. Reality shows those who abouse it, were never taught their body weight to consumption ratios. Too often, it is acceptable to drink to excess and we read about the consequences.


Posted by R.Gordon, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I wish to correct the quote Peter Carpenter attributes to black author James Baldwin (possibly another J.B.?). He NEVER said that and it is the last thing he would have had concerns about. He was far more involved in others aspects of life which mostly bordered on politics.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Mr. Gordon:

wrong as usual. I suggest you visit this site. The quote Peter attributed to Baldwin is his quote. It's about 15 quotes down the page.

Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm

R Gordon has once again scored close to zero on his source credibility. He is wrong about the Baldwin quote and every more wrong about Baldwin's wide range of interests.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Hey Kids...Heres the good news.......We, your fellow countrymen are more than happy to send you off to war and take a bullet for your country, it may kill you, worse yet it may disable you for life....THANKS, we really appreciate it.....BUT GOD FORBID YOU SHOULD WALK, CRAWL OR FIND YOUR OTHER WAY INTO A BAR AND ORDER A DRINK. What total hipocrasy......What a filthy disgrace...

Your apparently more than capable of casting a vote, but apparently to damn stupid to decide if you want a drink or not.

Carpenter and [portion deleted ] think its ok for you to vote or die, but not choose to drink or not. [portion deleted.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm

If Interested is truly interested in changing the law then Interested ought to provide some facts rather than just aimless wanderings.

How many of the 40 kids at the Menlo park party had or are serving in the military?
How many of those that are serving or have served have ever been deployed to a combat zone?
Has Interested any personal experience of military service in a combat zone?
What did Interested learn from that experience about discipline and rules, even ones that Interested may not have liked?

If someone is capable of deciding to kill or drink or steal does that make it right or legal to kill or drink or steal?


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Well, I've been reading this string and biting my tounge--probably should continue to do so--but, Interested's post is the "straw".

I am a Vietnam era veteran, got drafted at 19, etc. etc. like many of my generation. Wasn't old enough to either drink or vote back then. However, that is not the issue that people should focus on in this debate. The issues are:

If something is against the law, should parents, through their actions, create an environment that teaches their kids that its ok to ignore the law? My view, no.
Should adults refrain from trying to teach young people the errors of doing things that aren't good for them (physically or socially) because to do so would deprive the youth of learning from their own experiences (have some fun). My view, no, thats a parents role.
* In this day and age-no draft, diminished sense of owing a debt of service to country, etc.-how many people in the 18-26 age group actually go in to military service. I don't know the answer, but I'd bet its <10%. So should we make it legal for 18 year olds to drink because a few of them will serve? My view, no.

And, lastly, to Interested, you, too, are apparently old enough to vote and to drink, but obviously "to damn stupid" to read posts and understand the words; nobody said anything close to its ok for kids to vote and die, but not to drink.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Dear Interested - Your disparaging personal remark about Mr. Carpenter aside, I agree with your general take on this matter of being old enough to fight and die for your country, and to vote, but not to drink.

I know adults who were slowly and gradually introduced to wine and beer by their parents. It kind of killed the thrill of getting drunk as a teenager since they had learned to appreciate the subtleties of quality alcoholic beverages. Would that more parents did this.

But, and I have to ask this, how does it feel, as a fish, let's say, that's swum into a barrel above which a certain marksman sits? At hand to this marksman are an endless supply of indisputable facts and seemingly unimpeachable experience in terms of its breadth and depth, all of which is ammunition for his rhetorical shotgun which he loads and blasts away at visitors who dare to hypothesize without having met the ever so exacting standards of his frame of mind.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm

How unfortunate that the [portion deleted - please avoid disrespectful remarks) that repsonded to my post, missed the point entirely.. I could give a rats backside about a bunch of kids drinking at a private party...Not that any of you [portion deleted] would understand it, but the lowest incidence of alcholism is found amoung the French and the Jews. In those cultures children are introduced to drinking at an early age. While drinking is acceptable, drunkness is not....NOT MY OPIONION, that is the opinion of the Surgeon General of the United States of America.

BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT.......We send our young men and women off to war, we expect them to be adult enougth to vote, but according to you [portion deleted], that are too stupid to decide if they want to drink or not.......

How typically American. [portion deleted.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Interested states:"NOT MY OPIONION, that is the opinion of the Surgeon General of the United States of America."

Citation please, since blind referencing out of context is often (and usually intentionally) misleading.

And for a thoughtful discussion of the issues on this topic see:

Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Interested continues to mis-state my and others' opinions. We are not debating if the drinking age should be lowered but rather should the law as it exists be respected and enforced.

Most of who have posted above have both served in the military and done so in combat zones - neither of which provided us with an exemption to obey the laws. (Interested declined to comment on his personal experience with such service so I must omit him/her from this characterization)


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Prime Minister of Israel evidently disagrees with Interested:


Published 12:56 15.11.09Latest update 14:11 15.11.09
Netanyahu: Teenage drinking in Israel is becoming an epidemic
PM: There's been a 15% increase in alcohol use in last three years, government to take immediate action.

By Haaretz Service
Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu Israel news


Teenage drinking in Israel is on the verge of becoming an epidemic, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday in a government meeting.

The prime minister said there has been a 15 percent increase in alcohol consumption over the last three years, which must spur immediate action on three fronts: legislation, enforcement, and education.



"The most important thing is to take immediate action - and to do so aggressively," said Netanyahu.

The premier opened the cabinet meeting with data detailing the drinking problem in Israel.

"About a third of teens aged 12-18 report that they got drunk in the last year, which is a terrible figure," he said. "Moreover, about 20% of boys in the sixth grade report having drunk an alcoholic beverage, or that they drink an alcoholic beverage once a week. That is the second largest figure in Europe."

Netanyahu said he believed the trends could be reversed. "Other countries took action and succeeded, and we are learning from them," he said.

The prime minister also outlined the government's three-pronged plan to combat teenage drinking.

"First, we will implement a change in legislation that will limit the selling of alcohol to minors and will worsen the punishment of breaking the law," he said. "Second, we will strengthen the enforcement on the prohibition of selling of alcoholic beverages in places such as clubs and bars.

"And third, we intend to create a public atmosphere that opposes the drinking of alcohol, especially among teens through various educational activities."


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Damn Peter! their you go confusing interested with facts.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 6, 2011 at 4:52 pm

For the record, in case I didn't say so above, I think I did, but apparently interested has trouble with reading comprehension - I don't think it's right for 18 year olds to be able to fight and die for this country and not have a drink. However, there's a line between REQUIRING 18 year olds to fight and die, as we were in the Vietnam era (there was a draft), and now with an all volunteer military. They aren't required to fight and die EVER, if they don't enlist.

That said, a reasonable compromise seems to me to allow those who are members of the military to drink. I think the law should be changed accordingly.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"a reasonable compromise seems to me to allow those who are members of the military to drink. I think the law should be changed accordingly."

I wholeheartedly agree.

Sadly few of our young local residents qualify for such a well earned exemption.


Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Well far be it for me to try and educate you [portion deleted], but you never know, you might just learn something...Probably not....

It was C. Everett Koop, appointed by Ronald Reagan, who wrote about the incidence of alcoholism by country and culture, who made the statement I was referring too......But God forbid any of you [portion deleted] would bother to research it.........

And to the idiot at the Almanac that thinks the statement "Go to church on Sunday and make love to your mistress on Monday" should be censored.......Well what can I say, other than it shows what a sad little rag the Almanac is.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here are the rules for the US military serving in the State of California:

"Under the provision of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
It is unlawful for any soldier under the age of Twenty one to lawfully purchase, possess, provide, or consume alcoholic beverages in this Country or the State of California. Therefore, until you have attained the legal age of twenty one, you will not purchase, possess, or consume alcoholic beverages while a member of this command. And if you are over the age of twenty one you will not purchase or provide alcoholic beverages to any person under the age of twenty one. Failure to abide by this lawful order shall be considered a violation of Article 92, of the UCMJ, and may be subject to non-judicial punishment under the provision of Article 15."


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"It was C. Everett Koop, appointed by Ronald Reagan, who wrote about the incidence of alcoholism by country and culture"

Citation please. Was this statement, if actually made, made before, during or after his service as Surgeon General. If it was during his tenure as Surgeon General (one of our seven uniformed services) then he was a serving General officer and subject to the UCMJ cited above.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Not only is underage drinking illegal it is potentially medically harmful:

Web Link


" Underage alcohol use is associated with brain damage and neurocognitive deficits. The harmful consequences of underage drinking have implications for the learning abilities and intellectual development of underage drinkers. Impaired intellectual development may continue to affect individual even after they have entered adulthood. Emerging data on the susceptibility of the adolescent brain to the harmful effects of alcohol create an imperative for policy-makers and organized medicine to address the problem of underage drinking through renewed initiatives."

My thanks to the skeptics for stimulating my literature search on this issue.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 6, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Interested:

if you're going to try to "educate" us, you'll need to provide a link to the quote or information you claim supports your "educational" efforts. Otherwise you'll be taken for just another [portion deleted] who's "all hat and no cattle."


Posted by Jordi, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Under-21 alcohol prohibition does not work, same as over-21 prohibition. Teens drink whether we like it or not; the are now and they have since the law was enacted.

The teens I know are quite smart about their drinking, and not driving, and having designated drivers, and drinking in moderation, etc. Most are not as stupid as some of you claim to have been at their age; they are quite responsible.

Helping the kids learn how to drink, and how/when/where not to drink is essential. Discussing the effects of drinking is not possible if your position as a parent is "do not drink". The conversation will be over, and your teen will ignore you on this matter moving forward. As a parent, I want to be around when my kid starts drinking; if you leave it for when he/she goes to college, your ability to teach your kid -while in college- is zero.

A parent-supervised party where kids have a beer is the best possible scenario for teens to do what teens do when they get together on a weekend evening: hang-out and have a drink...

If we punish parents for providing this safe environment, teens will be drinking in the dark streets of Menlo Park or Atherton, possibly close to the darker areas surrounding the train tracks... the district attorney has the final word on where our teens will be drinking, in parent-supervised homes, or by the tracks, but one think will not change: teens will continue drinking.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Jordi - Thank you for your opinion. Unfortunately there is virtually no research that supports your position and no exception in the law for the behavior that you espouse.

I encourage you to review carefully the web sites noted above:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

UZKea


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Let me see if I understand this.

By listing these web sites, Mr. Carpenter is essentially admonishing his interlocutor to think like he does because any -- any venture whatsoever -- into thinking that does not comport with facts on the ground is wrong.

We do not live in a de jure world. We live in a de facto world. Jury trials are not always decided on facts or the law. Many are decided on the arguments made by lawyers as to how a reasonable person might respond to a given situation. If all that were needed to litigate a case was to understand the law as written, what would be the point of becoming a litigator?

De jure worlds, worlds in which there is black and there is white, are a fantasy, thank god, a fantasy that would be unsustainable in terms of keeping one's sanity.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I'm sorry. I was so passionate about this that I confused de jure and de facto. We live in a de jure world, not a de facto world.

I made a mistake, but I hope the spirit of my point here remains.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Whoops. I was right the first time.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Joe - from your comment it is obvious that you have not read the very balanced discussion, with lots of grey, on the Stanton Peele web site - please explore it:

Web Link

And then please post your thoughts on their discussion on Reducing Harms from Youth Drinking


Posted by Scholar, a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Dec 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm

"Sadly few of our young local residents qualify for such a well earned exemption."

So is that a fact or what? Is there a source?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Sadly few of our young local residents qualify for such a well earned exemption."

That is my opinion. DOD records do not show enlistment by ZIP code or city. I have searched without success for evidence of any fatalities in Iraq or Afghanistan of individuals from Menlo Park, Atherton or Palo Alto. I would welcome evidence to the contrary.

The stated purpose of this thread was to give posters the opportunity to express their opinion, which many have, and to provide factual information. If the factual sources that I have provided do not provide a balanced or full view then I urge you to provide supplementary information.


Posted by Buck, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Dec 7, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Alcohol is a toxin, and of course it's bad for us. But we do things that are harmful to ourselves everyday. The beauty of our system is that we shouldn't have to live by anyone elses opinions. The "drinking age" is an arbitrary construct, and isn't good or bad in an of itself. Or I should say there are valid arguments to be made on both sides of the issue.

What's really entertaining are all of the people who try to tell others they're wrong.


Posted by Scholar, a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Dec 7, 2011 at 3:32 pm

"Sadly few of our young local residents qualify for such a well earned exemption."

Quit dissing the local kids like it's a fact, without being able to back it up.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Scholar - I am entitled to my opinion and I challenge you to prove me wrong.


Posted by no simple answers, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Many college presidents have gone public in recent years with their concerns about dangers that have resulted from the unintended consequences of increasing the age of prohibition from 18 to 21. MADD and other organizations still support the maintaining the current prohibition. See this link to a 60 Minutes segment that discusses the issue:

Web Link


Posted by Bianca, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 7, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Legislators pass laws for a living, usually for emotional reasons (occasionally graft). Here are some without which somehow we 50 somethings grew and prospered. Jail time for failure on most of these.
- kids can't ride in front seat
- kids can't ride without approved baby seat, approved installation
-no-one can ride in the bed of the pick up
- can't build a new home without fire sprinklers (and a few other rules)
- can't drink in your own home
- can't smoke outdoors
- can drive after two drinks, but CHP can book you just in case
- if you represent government or a NGO, celebrate Christmas w/o equal time to religions that don't have their primary celebration in December
- discipline a student
On the other hand, you can
- operate any number of toys while driving
- walk naked in SF
- steal a shopping cart and keep it
- sleep in a business doorway
- beg openly downtown
- drive any way except fast
Its amazing those poor Euro kids don't die of trauma without all our protections that are for our own good.

As for "breaking the law", literalists will decry driving 70 mph or jay-walking, but there are (sshh, its a secret) a multitude of over-strict laws passed with the assumption that they will be broken. 25 mph on Embarcadero Rd? Your own kid can't have a half glass of wine? You can't cross your street without going to the corner?

There are widely varying reasons for laws, some of which look like the WCTU Prohibition (well intended and ignorant) and some that seek to put a relative lid on behavior (65 on a freeway that was engineered for 100, and that was before disc brakes, anti-lock and radial tires) and some that are ancient as culture and critical to viable society (theft, assault, murder, property rights) or common good (health, transit, basic utilities).

Life is not a 14 year old's black and white. You shouldn't host a binge party for kids, but you should be able to introduce drinking in your presence in your own home to your kids and those of consenting neighbors.


Posted by James, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 7, 2011 at 5:39 pm

"Not only is underage drinking illegal it is potentially medically harmful"

Depends what you mean by "underage". (From the Forum article, it seems we are talking about the locally applicable legal drinking age of 21.)

If you read the web link that is provided in support of the quoted assertion, they're actually talking about children who started drinking at age 12 or before. Are we then supposed to infer anything from this about 18- to 20-year olds who start at those ages -- people who are physiologically adults, and who may also be considered legally of age for all kinds of responsibilities and risks, except, it seems, to have a beer with Dad?

There are similar traps in relying on some of the other articles linked from this thread; the results often just can't be extrapolated the way people are trying to in order to support their positions.

(Actually, in this particular instance, I may have a further quibble with the analysis. From the linked summary, the authors seem not to have done any original research, but instead did a literature search using specific terms that may have predisposed their results to support their hypothesis, and without any analytical controls. So I have my doubts about their scientific approach. But I haven't read the original article and it's possible the summary is giving me a false impression of it.)


Posted by rules, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 8, 2011 at 10:12 am

Citizens should obey federal, state and local laws, or be prepared to be prosecuted. People should also learn to "shut up" when they are put in a position where their own statements will be used against them.

A more egregious situation is when a disgruntled neighbor provides false statements to the police, that can easily be disproved. Filing a false police report is a misdemeanor and a violation of CA PC 148.5, and can be punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year and a fine up to $1,000.


Posted by Jordi, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Peter, I am NOT supporting the concept that alcohol is good for kids, or kids should be encouraged to drink, or anything of this sort. I am acknowledging the FACT that teens drink. Your websites show plenty of statistics supporting this fact. Your websites also show plenty of references about how legislation is ineffective at preventing it. Have you noticed your kids going to parties in Portola Valley or Woodside since this incident happened in Menlo Park?

Get real, teens will continue drinking, and the best we can do as parents to minimize the damage is to speak with them A LOT about this, something we cannot do if we kick them out, and their friends, and their friends beer, next time they show up with some beer to "hang out"... at which point they will move on to driking in the car parked in some dark street, or in a park, school parking lot, or by the train tracks.


Posted by non drinker, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 1:16 pm

It's a big mistake to ignore the law, but that law-National Minimum Drinking Age Act-should not exist. It;s not certain that the is constitutional . American college students are by and large binge drinkers-they anxiously wait til they are of legal age (in some states it's 18) to start drinking and then they do indiscriminately . Lidia Bastianichi puts a bit of red wine in her grandchildren's water glasses so that they can get used to the flavors .... Is that wrong? And why 21? what's so magic about 21? And what so important about the day 21 that transforms drinking into OK? And what about the distinction that the law doesn't make between distilled, wine, beer? And what about restricting the hours that alcoholic beverages can be purchased?
We don't teach the over 18's to drink until it's too late, but children can freely express themselves with guns. Beautiful?

America fights against alcohol by making it very attractive.


Posted by non drinker, a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Sorry, what I should have said id the the law-National Minimum Drinking Age Act - is in fact constitutional. Bad pasting....


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm

The legacy of the Puritan mindset is still strong in this country after 390 years. It may be so ingrained that's it's all but invisible.

Part of that mindset in a rigid adherence to the law. When I visited Rome, one of the most attractive aspects of that Southern Italian culture is the way people drove in town.

My lasting impression was of pelotons (like cyclists), very few traffic lights and stop signs, lane markers that were ignored, and everything running smoothly. The cops at the intersections resembled choreographers. Their motions graceful and the dancers (the cars and scooters) very attentive to the directions.

My guess is that they are also highly skilled drivers. Why? Because it becomes an art. Life is an art. Teaching kids about alcohol is an art, because alcohol can be beautiful -- single malt scotch, fine wines, great beer. These are things to learn about and celebrate. Jesus! Relax!!!


Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

And by the way, the perennial law abiding citizen would probably have a hell of a time making it in Rome, much less passing the driving test, which I imagine is no walk in the park.

Maybe that's the origin of the saying about living in Rome, which is living life writ large. Would that we had more of that spirit in this angst-ridden work camp of a country!


Posted by Dave Boyce, Almanac staff writer
on Dec 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

Link to William and Cynthia Burnett, the parents in this incident, being interviewed for the Today show this morning, Dec. 8. Includes backgrounder with comments by Cmdr. Dave Bertini of the Menlo Park Police Department.

Web Link


Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 8, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Hey, Peter Carpenter, I think you have the wrong question. As a community of caring adults, shouldn't we be asking the following instead: GIVEN THAT SOME TEENS DO DRINK ALCOHOL, WHAT CAN WE AS A COMMUNITY DO TO HELP THEM LEARN AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO BE SAFE AND RESPONSIBLE?
Obviously, the law as it stands does not work for many teens. Obviously, throwing parents in jail does not work either. Other ideas?


Posted by Alexander, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Arresting officer Ed Soares with photo with link and article below. Do we want this man policing our teens about drinking or their parents?

Web Link


Posted by Jack, a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Dec 8, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I think it should be up to the parents what age they allow their adolescent to drink safely. I think the parents & their adolecents should not be prosecuted if alcohol consumption is supervised & in the confines of their home. It gives the adolescent the opportunity to learn and the parent to teach appropriate and responsible behavior and, at the same time, the adolescent to learn their physical limits in a safe environment. It would also take the thrill out of abusive consumption. Given the privledge of being allowed to have drinks with their parents on a socialable level versus spiteful or repressed adolescents getting drunk with friends in cars, vacant homes or parks. It definity takes the thrill away if parents are more involved with their adolescent's exploration. We all experience this on some level growing up.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 9, 2011 at 10:17 am

Ed Soares? What does he have to do with the Menlo Park Police?


Posted by Redfield Flash, a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 4:10 pm

The structure of the questions is narrow, and this is a very broad subject. On the first question, I don't believe that one should break the law because you disagree with it. As to the second question, I do believe that young people should allowed to consume alcohol under adult supervision. Take the French as an example. Drinking wine as a young person during family occasions is practiced often, yet France has many fewer incidents related to alcohol, and their rate of alcoholism is much lower than the rates in the United States. Somehow, we decided that 21 was to be a magic number, and I believe that the young aspire to that age so they can feel grown up. I know I did. I found it strange that I could be drafted and sent to die in a war that I didn't understand, yet I couldn't drink beer. When you consider that if you're 14 and the opportunity presents for you to appear grown up, you tend to take it and often deal with the consequences. Not so in Italy, not so in Germany, not so in Austria because they indoctrinate the young to drink responsibly. We indoctrinate the young wrongly in my opinion and we cling to old ways knowing that they don't work. I think Forrest Gumps Mama said it best when she said, "stupid is as stupid does".


Posted by HawkeyePierce, a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Steve- Ed Soares was one of the officers on scene at the Burnett's. That article is from when he worked for a neighboring agency.


Posted by Dave Boyce, Almanac staff writer
on Dec 9, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

Ed Soares is Sgt. Ed Soares, the lead officer at this incident, at which there were also six other police officers. Cmdr. Dave Bertini told the Almanac.

The entire shift was on the scene, Bertini said.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 9, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Neighbor -

You said "GIVEN THAT SOME TEENS DO DRINK ALCOHOL, WHAT CAN WE AS A COMMUNITY DO TO HELP THEM LEARN AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO BE SAFE AND RESPONSIBLE?"

Given that some people will drive without a license anyway, what can we as a community do to help them learn and encourage them to be safe and responsible?

Personally, I don't think the answer is to subvert laws and encourage people to participate in illegal acts. It just teaches them that they don't need obey laws... at an early, impressionable age.

If you've ever wondered why people don't respect the police, teachers, the elderly, or other people's personal property, the answer is right in front of you.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 10, 2011 at 7:36 am

There seems to be some consensus that parents should have the option of allowing their underage children to drink at home under THEIR parents' supervision in order to teach them about the use of alcohol.

There seems to be less consensus that parents should have the option of allowing their underage children to drink at home under THEIR parents' supervision for recreational purposes.

There is little support for allowing underage individuals to consume alcohol under the supervision of someone who is NOT their parent.

There is no support for supervised underage drinking without the formal consent of that underage person's parents.

This has been an interesting community discussion. It is a difficult issue and I remain with the personal opinion that the parents can best act as role models by respecting the law and explaining to their children why they should do the same - and that if either the parents or the children break the law then they should be prepared to accept the consequences (rather than claiming the law is wrong or that the police are wrong to enforce the law).



Posted by Joe, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 10, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Life and its enthusiastic appreciation, with an eye to the law, is richer and has life's priorities in proper perspective.

That's my personal opinion.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Maybe some of those who support adult supervised underage drinking will now also advocate adult supervised pot parties:

"Good news: Fewer American teens are drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes than ever before.

Bad news: They are instead increasingly turning to marijuana.

Those were the big takeaways from the National Institute on Drug Abuse's latest Monitoring the Future report, which surveyed 47,000 eighth-, tenth- and twelfth-graders across the nation.

Researchers found that one in eight eighth-graders have tried pot, a rate that only increases for the older students: About 29 percent of high school sophomores and 36 percent of seniors have experimented with pot. Overall, 2011 marked the fourth straight year that marijuana use has increased."


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2011 at 1:28 am

Isn't it interesting the number of police officers needed to "handle" 44 kids and 2 seniors?

Now, our tax payers money is responsible for all this? No wonder it is more advantageous to "handle" college-bound kids and a Stanford professor in Menlo Park than East Palo, where Ed Soares used to be.

Web Link


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 16, 2011 at 11:28 am

Anonymous -

How many officers should be sent to an incident with nearly 50 people in attendance? You tell us.

If they sent two officers and there were problems, I suspect you would be the first to shout "Why didn't the police dispatcher send MORE officers! There were 50 people there!!!"

Let's not second guess our police officers who have to make these decisions every single day... and not from the comfort of their dens sitting behind a computer keyboard.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 16, 2011 at 6:54 pm

"Let's not second guess our police officers who have to make these decisions every single day... and not from the comfort of their dens sitting behind a computer keyboard."

Thank you POGO. One of the primary reasons I left law enforcement was that I was tired of being second guessed by people who were unwilling to do the job, had no knowledge of what was involved in doing the job and basically didn't care - they just want to sit in their swivel chair and second guess things they couldn't possibly understand.

To anonymous: if you ever bother to serve behind the badge as I have, you can criticize, [portion removed; disrespectful language].


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm

As an executive, I'm very used to being second guessed... especially by members of the board of directors. They forget that they have the luxury of more time to consider the decision and usually more data (during the time that elapsed since the decision, facts can change).

And so it is with the police. They are making split second decisions without the benefit of a managerial review, second opinion or slow motion. In my experience, they are usually well trained, polite, skilled professionals. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt in these situations.


Posted by wondering, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 16, 2011 at 8:24 pm

"Isn't it interesting the number of police officers needed to "handle" 44 kids and 2 seniors?"

If people in their 40s now qualify as "seniors" then what do we call the growing contingent of 60+ residents? Walking ghosts?


Posted by Science Gal, a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Dec 16, 2011 at 9:33 pm

As a 20 something recent college graduate I'd like to weigh in on this forum based entirely on my personal observations throughout my high school and college years:

The Question: Should adults permit supervised underage drinking?

My Answer: No. Here's why:

Today's high school gatherings of 16 - 17 year olds that comprise large groups such as 44 teens is usually a red flag of drinking and often smoking. In my circle of close friends in high school of about 12, we were non-drinkers but were often invited to the large parties of drinkers/weed smokers. There's always a parent willing to open up their basement, pool house, rec room etc to have a "responsible drinking party". These parents are often naive or clueless or in denial. The kids drink alot, most often smoke weed also (outside) and hook up right there under the noses of the "supervising parents".

When parents like the Burnetts host a large group of teenagers in the hope of kids making good choices, when they take away the keys from the teens they also need to hand out condoms and hope for not too many STD's get passed at their house.

With drinking comes sexual activity in teens. A point completely overlooked in these discussions. When teens are drunk, they don't care how many people are around, they hook up. Sorry to be crude but that's the reality.

Parents can be positive role models and have expectations of following laws. My friends and I have parents that are great role models and none of us drink/use drugs. We have healthy self esteem and can have fun being ourselves without self medicating.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2011 at 10:01 am

POGO, I know many in Woodside who claim they are "executives", until you start digging deeper to find out they actually own small businesses in contracting, painting, construction, etc. Also, their homes, while addressed as "Woodside", are actually along the outskirts where the winding roads just to get up there is one reason the prices are affordable for so-called small business "executives".

Let's get back to police conduct. For the Menlo case, the main party involved were teenagers, with two supervising parents. There officers not only abused the parents (allegedly), but were overstepping the bounds for the situation. There were no firearms, no weapons, all doing their own thing in a PRIVATE home.

There is no second guessing here. One gets defensive when they are trying to hide what they did wrong. For this case, the police overstepped the bounds under the pretense of safety. Isn't it the fear factor that made us justify violence against others?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 17, 2011 at 10:42 am

" all doing their own thing in a PRIVATE home." Sounds like Anonymous feels thatdoing anything in someone's private home is exempt from the law. Drinking, drugs, underage sex, abuse ..... what all does Anonymous include in his amnesty zone of someone's private home?

"There is no second guessing here" No, just third and fourth guessing based on zero evidence.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Yes, if there is something illegal within a PRIVATE home, get a search warrant. Thank goodness the law is also dependent on someone other than the police. Educated ones, at least, and that does not mean high school or some community college. There are way too many cases of the police doing the wrong things, and sometimes illegal. Those are only the documented ones.

Public records also show some of these policemen you're trying to glorify, have records prior to their joining the brotherhood. Then, the records suddenly stopped. A leopard can definitely change its spots after all.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm

For the benefit of POGO and Mr. Carpenter, and anyone interested, just pick your local police officer and find out their records in the County court system.

POGO, how about we choose one from your local Woodside office? Didn't have to look hard to find at least one with past records. But, of course, who would want to peel the layers to get to the truth? Too tedious and too much work for the small business "executive".


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm

No wonder Anonymous chooses to be anonymous.
Innuendo and assertions.
Police Officers are in court all the time Because they are performing their official duties.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm

[Post removed; please argue the issue and don't attack other posters]


Posted by Playin by the rules, a resident of Woodside School
on Dec 17, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Posters have gotten off-topic. The discussion is whether or not adults should permit under-age drinking, not how the police should handle it if called upon. (Yes, in Stanford Profesor Burnett's case, the police were called by diligent citizens. They didn't crash Prof. Burnett's house randomly.)

Should adults permit underage drinking? In the privacy of their own home is okay? NO.

Should adults permit people making meth in their basements since it's in the privacy of their own home? NO.

Some posters here would say anything goes in the privacy of their own homes - very scary.

Is there a difference


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 17, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Anonymouse:

How about you pick one of those officers for us? If they have been convicted of some crime it is public record and your putting it out here wouldn't be any kind of crime. I'm betting you can't. So, as I said before the editors deleted it, you don't know what you're talking about.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 17, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Anonymous -

There are plenty of people on this site who know me so I'm not about to defend my credentials or address to you.

But Mr. Carpenter has it right - you are clearly second guessing from the comfort of your home and from behind your keyboard. If you've ever done a "ride along" with a cop (and I have), you know the associated apprehension for the unknown situations, which occur a dozen times a shift. But I'm sure that if you had to respond to a "routine" complaint about 40+ underage people drinking at a party late at night, you would be perfectly comfortable going in alone. I'm sure you would all have a wonderful kumbaya moment. As for me, I'd want a little help from my fellow police officers.

I would encourage you to re-read "Science Gal's" post above. She was a recent high school graduate and knows what goes on. Shame on these parents who failed other families who trusted them to provide a safe place for their children to celebrate.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Nice try, Menlo Voter. Typical of the entrapment tricks officers use. As I said before, you can go to the county court system and check the public records of police officers.

And to Mr. Carpenter, obviously I was not referring to records of police officers who go to courts when they are on duty. Check their records BEFORE they became police officers. If you care to look further than just the surface, some (and for those who simply like to deny and attack, that means not ALL) officers had track records in the public record displaying trends in their behavior prior to them joining the brotherhood. The records stop from then on. This pattern shows up on ALL of those officers who have records prior to them wearing the badge that some have used to perform selective enforcement of the law.

POGO, if an executive is well prepared when questions are asked by the board, he/she would not be upset. Instead of calling that second guessing, it would be THE time for an executive to shine. The fact that an executive cannot provide a logical and analytical answer is just indication that he/she has not thought about it. There is a reason why boards ask questions. A good executive will always welcome a different perspective, and not get all defensive.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 17, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Anonymouse:

as I said, you clearly don't know what you are talking about. If I can go to the court records then anyone can. So why won't you post at least one name here to back up your assertion? Don't bother answering, we all know why. [Deleted.]

Entrapment! I suggest you google that and find out what it actually means.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2011 at 12:18 am

Science Gal, Congratulations on your college graduation. This nation needs higher educated people, like yourself, to strengthen its competitiveness.

Your points are well taken, and it is nice to know you cherish the support given by your parents who did not have to deal with overzealous outside forces, who may not necessarily have your long term interest as a priority.

There is no denying that teenagers and college students sometimes opt to do irrational things. Adults and retirees sometimes do that as well. The question is, do we want to be accosted by overzealous police officers, if one of those things happen to cross the legal line but without proven harm? All the arguments in support of the police actions have the assumptions and presumptions that harm will result. The fact is, no harm was done, except for the actions of the police officers. Many will argue (and we know who those are) that the officers prevented the assumed harm (accident, death, etc.) that would have happened. All those arguments are irrelevant because those are and will always be just assumptions and presumptions.

Did any of your high school and college party goers die? Did the police interfere in each and every one of the gatherings? If the assumptions are correct, wouldn't all or most of those gatherings have resulted in deaths, accidents, etc.?


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2011 at 12:26 am

Menlo Voter, obviously even with our perceived freedom of speech, writing the name of someone who ironically carries a badge and has records, is suicidal. Especially since those are most likely the ones who will bend the law in their favor. You know that, and I am not falling for that. Nice try though.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 18, 2011 at 8:34 am

"do we want to be accosted by overzealous police officers," allegation without verification.

"The fact is, no harm was done, except for the actions of the police officers." another allegation without verification.

This Forum has become a cesspool for anonymous posters making unsupported statements without any accountability. So much for having "a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion."


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 18, 2011 at 9:45 am

Anonymouse:

since you're posting here anonymously, just how is this imaginary police officer going to know who posted?

if you are unwilling to back up your accusations with any kind of fact I suggest you stop making them. No one is going to put any stock in anything you say and you just continue to make yourself look foolish.


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2011 at 9:57 am

Mr. Carpenter, maybe you are ignoring the harm already imposed by the police to the Burnetts and the teens involved. The police officers will move on as if nothing had happened, but people with no prior incidents like the Burnetts has already been affected.

Menlo Voter, you're an ex-cop but were you a detective, or was in a position which required smarts? [DELETED. AVOID ATTACKS.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 18, 2011 at 10:02 am

" the harm already imposed by the police to the Burnetts and the teens involved." Another allegation without verification.

Simply repeating statements like this does not make those statements true.

Who was harmed and what was the exact nature of the harm and how has that harm been verified?

Did the actions of the Burnetts and some of the teenagers harm the community by a possible breaking of the law?


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Anonymouse:

Clearly you can't back up your accusations so you resort to personal attacks. That's pretty much all I really need to know about the validity of those accusations.


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