February 16, 2008
It would be easy, but unfair, to criticize the Park City Council member who claimed to be "stunned" that the teens charged with slashing tires on about 50 cars in Park Meadows were local kids.
But maybe that’s the problem. Even after learning the suspected perpetrators live in the neighborhood, the same council member speculated that the offenders must have been raised somewhere else. After all, that is the only acceptable explanation in a community that strives to be world class in every way. Right?
Since the boys are juveniles and their names have not been released, that hypothesis will be hard to prove. However, it would be better to just assume that ‘they’ are ‘us,’ that our children are just as susceptible to the pressures of today’s society as those in cities and towns across the country.
While we are all quick to take credit for the success of Park City’s schools and the students’ exceptional achievements in both academics and sports, we would be doing them a disservice if we did not also acknowledge the extreme pressures and difficult decisions that today’s teens face.
The Park City School District and its families do not exist in a vacuum. Nor do the ones in North and South Summit, which one might assume are even more insulated from the problems commonly associated with teens in urban areas. Thanks, in part, to cell phones, Internet sites like MySpace and Facebook and TV, we are becoming one big happy, and sometimes unhappy, family.
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Park City teens may shoulder an even heavier burden than their peers elsewhere. In this small community of high expectations, some may find the opportunities and the demands to be more than they can handle.
We are not excusing the behavior of the four 13- and 14-year-olds who are accused of destroying thousands of dollars in private property last month — they need to face the consequences of their behavior. But we are concerned about the community’s quick assumption that the deed must have been done by outsiders.
Obviously there are kids in Park City who need additional support. Denying the fact that our teens are as vulnerable as those from other places and other backgrounds is irresponsible.