The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 13, 2009

Opinions

With many newspapers in free-fall, what about the Mosquito?

It is pretty scary these days when you read about what is happening in the newspaper business. Denver’s Rocky Mountain News is gone. It is questionable how much longer The San Francisco Chronicle will go to press, and things even look murky for the Chicago Tribune. Yesterday, while listening to WBUR news, I heard about more layoffs at the Boston Globe, including the possibility of the print Globe folding and going online.

The Carlisle Mosquito has been a non-profit weekly newspaper since 1972, published and mailed free to all Carlisle residents. We are one of the few independent newspapers in eastern Massachusetts, not a member of a chain such as the Community Newspaper Company. And members of the Mosquito staff are local residents who know and care about the community. However, with the downturn in the economy, we are not immune to some of the difficulties that many newspapers are experiencing.

Our readers may have noticed we are publishing mostly 16-page papers, with fewer 20-page papers than we have had in the past, which may result in shorter articles. This is mainly due to lower advertising revenue coming in each week. With many local businesses in trouble and the housing market at an all-time low, this is not at all surprising.

Donations in response to the Mosquito Fund Drive at the end of the year also help cover the costs of putting out the newspaper, and we here at the paper are greatly appreciative of all those who have responded to this yearly request. Mosquito staff members are also doing their best to help out by taking salary cuts.

This is just the latest in an update on what is going on at your town newspaper, with hopes that better times lie ahead.


Serving kids

We all parent each other’s children to some extent, and that’s a good thing. It’s great for kids, from toddlers to teens, to know and trust adults other than their own parents, to see how other families work, to sample other traditions and values. And respect them.

In the Youth Risk Behavior Survey released recently, 389 Concord-Carlisle High School students (34% of respondents) said they had attended parties in Concord or Carlisle homes where alcohol use by teens “was allowed, either occasionally or frequently during the 12 months prior to the survey.” Now, the question posed by the survey didn’t get at what “allowed” might mean to the adolescent respondents. It did not probe whether a respondent had actually asked an adult if it were okay, or possibly just taken someone’s word for it, or assumed it was okay because the parents were around.

The risk survey is administered in area schools every two years, and every two years, we bemoan that kids drink and drug, and that this reflects our societal norms. Which it does. But it’s not breaking news. Kids, about half of them over the course of high school, will experiment and more. They always have, and probably always will. And sneaking is a normal part of the equation.

Information campaigns are waged; school health curricula are fortified. Scare tactics are deployed; we appeal to them with the latest “brain science.” But kids know the law and, to one extent or another, they know the reasons drinking and drugging are bad for them. They do not lack information. It’s judgment they don’t quite have down yet. That’s where, presumably, parents come in.

Just to get it out there: Providing alcohol to a person under age 21, who is not your own child or grandchild, is illegal, whether in your home or a place of business. And there’s also civil social host liability in the event someone you’ve served has an accident and injures someone else.

In any community there are different views and values about alcohol and teens. Some parents decide to allow kids to drink in their homes, reasoning that they would drink one way or the other and would be safer in a home than out in the woods or in some parking lot. Some insist on collecting everyone’s keys. I’ve known parents who’ve looked the other way, knowing that kids were bringing booze or marijuana into their homes but opting not to act like they knew it. Some think drinking is a skill that must be learned. Some parents say the law is the law and are dead-set against their kids drinking a drop before the age of 21. Some parents inspect backpacks; others are clueless. Some see drinking as a rite of passage. All of us hope our kids will be safe and that we can trust each other to look out for them.

As one who struggled as a parent with what I thought was right and what I thought was realistic, and as one whose own parents readily served cocktails to my teenage friends without their parents’ knowledge, I still have to ask: How can any parent reason that this is your decision to make for someone else’s child, directly or tacitly?

In the time of play dates, we solicit permission to serve soft drinks to each other’s kids or to let the kids stay up past 10 at a sleepover. Why, when the kids are 16 and 17, would we not ask for and respect each other’s views about a more risky choice?

 

 

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