Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 05/04/2017

#parentfail misses the point

19155858Several weeks ago in Kansas City, there was a tragic car accident involving nine 14 and 15 year olds, riding around in a car at 4 in the morning. The carful of kids, driving 80 mph in a residential area without headlights, refused to stop for a police officer and a short time later, crashed into a tree, killing both the driver and the front seat passenger. The seven in the back seat walked away. The police called the Mitsubishi sedan “over-occupied”. How’s that for an understatement?

The next day, facebook was loaded up with #parentfail sorts of posts. You can probably guess — “They weren’t even old enough to drive. And at 4 a.m.?” and “I wouldn’t allow my kid to be out at 4 in the morning.” You get the picture.

But that’s only the beginning of the discussion. Those comments miss the point. Or maybe they just don’t go far enough. The point is that peer influence and pressure trump good sense. Often. Nine young teens….and not one of them thought/considered/said, “Hey dudes, this isn’t a good idea” or “I don’t know about this……? That pull of fitting in and being viewed as cool overrules good judgment. There you have it. Just Say No? Just a slogan. A tired slogan. Say no and lose face and street cred with your homies? Not a chance.

Is this just the nature of teens? Some will push the boundaries….sneaking out of the house, trying to impress their peers. I guess the sheer number of kids involved makes this so concerning….you can understand one numbskull kid having a really bad idea and bringing his friend along. But one kid with a bad idea and bringing eight others along? That’s herd mentality. That’s the power of the need to belong. Even if the price of belonging is being a passenger in a car wrapped around a tree.

Is this a matter of parents talking to their kids? Or parents being vigilant? Or hyper-vigilant? Or is this the price of having a teen – knowing that kids are going to make ridiculous choices and you just have to pray that your kid has a helicopter guardian angel? One that never sleeps.

My heart aches for the parents of the kids who lost their lives. And the seven survivors, who will live with the trauma of that accident for their whole lives.  Yup, there is something to that frontal cortex science.



  1. Sad story. Lest anyone think that this is something new, I’m about to tell on my big brother who also sneaked out one night with other teens and managed to wreak the car… and I think this would have been 1960. What’s with all this shaming of other parents by some high and mighty ones whose kids just haven’t been caught yet. And don’t they remember?

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