Then and Now


Watching the reports of the teens having their pool party busted up and their reaction, I’m wondering what the hell has happened.

Back in the day, forty plus years ago, many of us teens, spent many a Friday or Saturday nights, breaking the law with underage drinking. Our big crime of scoring some beer and on a rare occasion, someone would lift some hard liquor from his or her parent’s liquor cabinet. Growing up in the suburbs of Detroit and Ann Arbor Michigan, we would make a quiet get away to our favorite apple orchard, a farmer’s field, or way out-of-town to some secluded state land. We didn’t want to be caught or cause any trouble.

Trouble meant possibility the police and worse yet, our parents finding out. We kept as quiet as possible but there were still times when someone would hear us and call the police or a park ranger or patrolling sheriff would find us. As long as I live, I will never forget that sinking feeling when we would see headlights coming down the road, thinking it was someone else joining the party and I would hear, “it’s the cops!”

Here is where the big difference some from then and now. No one had to tell us to freeze. No one had to tell us to turn down the music. No one had to tell us not to run. Absolutely, no one had to tell us to shut up. We knew better. We respected authority, even if we were breaking the law by drinking before we were twenty-one.

Nope, we stood quiet and still in the headlights, waiting for the lecture and problems that were coming our way. We knew what the officer was about to say to us was going to be bad, but nothing like what we would hear if our parents got wind of this. Officers would check IDs, checking to see if anyone was of legal age, as he or she would be arrested for contributing to a minor. I can’t count the times we were made to pour out any beer or liquor on to the ground, then made to clean up or mess. The police made sure we all had sober drivers to take us home and sent us on our way. Then we had to get past our parents without them smelling beer on our breaths, which was more frightening.

Now days, we see teens running about like chickens with their heads chopped off when the police are called in. You can’t hear what the teens are saying, but you can sure tell they have plenty to say. When you can hear what they are saying, it’s not anything I would have ever thought of saying to an officer. I see teens not only running up behind or beside officers trying to control a situation. I see teens getting up into officer’s faces. I hear them cursing at the officers and calling them disrespectful names. I saw teens throwing rocks and bricks at the police.

There is a huge difference in then and now. I have been trying for several years to understand why this has happened. What happened to our society that we need police working in our school? The only time we say police in our school was during career day or if some truant student being returned to class. It was the behavior of the students causing the need for police in the schools. It wasn’t an officer getting up one day and deciding they wanted to spend their work day in the halls of a high school because they hated teens.

The loss of respect over the years have caused the large changes. People have lost respect for the law, police, educators, parents, siblings, and most of all themselves. How can anyone respect anyone else if they have no respect for themselves or their lives? Loss of respect for yourself spreads to all aspects of your life.

Until society stops blaming everything and everyone for its ills and respect if gained again, we are facing more problems than any of us could possibility understand.


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