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Our View: Hardly a harmless rite of passage

Partying in the woods outside of town in the waning days of the school year is, for a lack of a better term, a rite of passage for many of our community’s teenagers ” both those graduating high school and those who aren’t.

Unfortunately it’s just a matter of time before that rite takes a young life. Beer, booze, pot and who-knows-what-else mixed with the reckless vitality of youth have again formed a near-deadly mix.

Last weekend two teens were allegedly stabbed by another during a bonfire party near Hirschdale. A law enforcement official said the two victims were lucky to escape with their lives. The young man wielding the knife is now facing attempted murder charges.



Two years ago this May, a 19-year-old woman fell into a bonfire at a high school party near Boca Reservoir and suffered first- and second-degree burns on her arms, chest and nose. Her injuries were so severe that she had to be flown to the burn center at the U.C. Davis Medical Center in Sacramento for treatment.

Following incidents like these there are usually cries from the community that there are no nighttime activities in Truckee for teenagers. And that is largely true.



But even if there was a movie theater, a weekend teen center that featured live music, an open gym or just a cool place for young people to hang out, we all know ” some of us through first-hand experience “back in the day” ” that when one is 18 the most liberating, independent and questionable activities take place away from parents, teachers and the like. That often includes getting high and hammered ” or both.

That’s not to say it’s OK. But lets face it, if it’s not your kids out in the woods in the middle of the night with dozens ” or as at one party in 2004, hundreds ” of others, whose kids are they?

We can blame the Town of Truckee, the school district and the sheriff’s and police departments for either not setting up activities for teens or not busting up bonfire parties. But it is ultimately the responsibility of parents to know what their sons and daughters are doing and where they’re doing it.

Even with the two tragic incidents noted above, some may write off teens partying in woods as harmless good times ” even a rite of passage. But even if the party-goers make it through the night without hurting themselves there’s a good chance they could hurt others.

Bonfires managed by impaired teens are a catastrophic wildfire waiting to happen. Teens driving are already a liability on our roads, let alone when they are drunk, high or both.

Yes, the lack of activities in town warrants discussion. But the mere fact that dozens and dozens of teens end up partying around bonfires in the woods every spring should disabuse a parent from thinking, “My kid would never do that.”

So the question is, it’s nearing the end of the school year and Saturday night: Do you know where you child is?


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