Guest Editorial: Teacher has better approach to underage drinkers |

Guest Editorial: Teacher has better approach to underage drinkers

Joe Tesch, Midway

Tami MacFarlane is one of the most responsible parents in Park City. I do know her. I know of the openness of her home to many teenagers over many years. Our 18 year old son spends much time with that family and he shares with us her discussions about the dangers of underage drinking and her urging of him and his friends to stay away from it completely. Tami has this unique talent that encourages teenagers to open up to her, often more than to their own parents, and as a result she is able to have a very positive influence on their lives.

Now let’s look at the Sheriff’s approach. He and others in the community say that they believe in aggressive law enforcement and to let the courts handle the problems. We all want our children to be alcohol free, but this approach doesn’t work. First, as parents, we, not the courts, need to control and educate children about the dangers of alcohol. Second, while many studies have been performed over the years, the firm consensus is that there are no studies which show that putting underage drinkers into the court system has a positive result. I’m not alone here in promoting better methods. Monique Lin-Luse, the speaker at the Marking Luther King Memorial Luncheon in Salt Lake City on January 20, 2014, made this comment regarding schools referring students to law enforcement: "But there are solutions. Schools can become safer and have fewer dropouts if they do things like focus on instructive discipline rather than sending kids out of school, and refer them to guidance counselors rather than the police. We know that works " Utah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham called Lin Luse’s remarks "dead on."

How about ill-mannered and unnecessarily heavy-handed treatment by arresting officers? Do you think that teaches our children respect for the law or law enforcers? Think again. We are trying to build character in our children, not fear. As for instructive discipline, take a page from our team coaches. To get the best out of every child it requires a unique and special application to each particular child. Educators should know this. Neither the Sheriff nor the courts are equipped for this task. But parents are. They must take the time and the effort — don’t look to the courts to do your job.

There is a teacher in our school system who anxiously awaits the public forum. Unfortunately, she may be waiting a long time. Although I was a criminal prosecutor for over 20 years, the Chief Deputy Attorney General of the State, I’ve lived in Park City for over 30 years (but recently moved to Midway) run a business on Main Street have been on several Park City public and nonprofit boards, and have always been a firm supporter of our police department, since I disagree with the Sheriff, he has declined to be involved in any forum where I, who he has stooped to calling an "alien" and an "agitator" participate. Of course, he has also manufactured false motive regarding my concerns. I won’t be bullied by this Sheriff, so it looks like he won’t be there. This isn’t a personal matter. It’s about misguided policy.

There are a lot of productive ways for us as a community fashion solutions to underage drinking which are effective and don’t create permanent criminal records for our young adults. We need to find those solutions.