Teens air concerns on radio show
Seven local teen-agers stepped up to the microphone yesterday on the “Ham and Eggs” radio show and expressed deep misgivings with the 37-year-old local law setting an 11 p.m. curfew for everyone under the age of 18.
“I think it’s the kids’ responsibility to take care of themselves. If parents don’t know where the kids are, it’s their problem,” said Oliver Garfield, 17, a senior at Aspen High School.
“It’s appalling to me that people say `we want to help the kids in town,’ and then turn around and say `if we let them stay out, the kids are going to rob us,'” said Kimi Timora, a 17-year-old senior.
“We don’t need the government encroaching on our lives, it’s already got too much power over us. The curfew should be parents’ responsibility, not the community’s,” said Jennifer Snook, also a 17-year-old senior.
But Aspen Police Officer Leon Murray, who joined them on the Sunday morning program, pointed out that the law is enforced in the “Aspen Way” and almost never in the strictest sense possible.
If, for instance, a high-school dance breaks up at midnight, and a car full of teens is pulled over at 12:15 a.m., it’s not likely the officer will do anything but remind everyone about the curfew before sending them on their way. “But if we pull someone over at 1 a.m., we’re going to want to know why it’s taking them so long to get home,” said Murray.
Garfield, Murray, Timora and Snook were joined at yesterday morning’s round-table discussion by Amber Matthews, 17, Mae Whitmer, 17, Maggie Owsley, 16, and Ben Sadler, 17.
Murray reminded the teens and the listening audience that the curfew could be changed if there is support in the community, and the police department would be a willing participant in any discussion about teen issues.
Other topics that came up during the debate included teen drinking and the kinds of examples adults set in this community.
“Maybe we should be allowed to drink before we’re 21 under some kind of supervision. A lot of us are going to try it anyway, so maybe it’s better if we don’t get hammered on top of a mountain and then have to drive down,” said Garfield.
“It’s rare to see anyone’s parents acting irresponsibly,” said sophomore Maggie Owsley. But she added that the presence of alcohol in her friends’ homes may send a mixed signal.
“There are laws, and the fact of the matter is it is legal to drink if you’re over 21,” said program host Andrew Kole.
When Kole asked about the perception that teens are sent a mixed message by some adults and cops who don’t treat marijuana use as a serious crime, Officer Murray said he would have to dance around the question, though in the end he agreed with at least part of its premise.
“The kids at this table are astute, and I think they’re right – there is a lot of guidance missing in this community because people don’t walk their talk,” he said.
Yesterday’s debate on KNFO 106.1-FM is what “Ham and Eggs” host Kole hopes will become a monthly feature of the program. The show is broadcast live from 9 to 10 a.m. Sunday mornings from the round table in the back corner of the Wienerstube Restaurant in Aspen.
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