DEAR HARRIETTE: My son has an overnight school trip planned, and I do not want him to go. He is a freshman in high school, and I know what these kids are up to, especially what they'll be trying to do in a hotel room in Washington, D.C.
The purpose of this trip is for learning, and he knows this; however, I don't trust his friends and the other kids on the trip. Teenage hormones and recklessness could wreak havoc, and my son will either end up having a little too much fun or maybe even end up in the hospital. What if one of these kids brings drugs? I don't feel comfortable sending him away like this.
I've spoken to teachers, and they say the rooms will be same-sex and that teachers will be monitoring the hallways of the hotel. It just doesn't feel right. I don't want to send my little boy away where God-knows-what can happen. How do I tell my son he isn't allowed to go on this trip? I don't want to hurt his feelings, but it's just not time yet. -- Too Far Away, Baltimore
DEAR TOO FAR AWAY: A group of boys in a hotel overnight could spell trouble. Still, I think you should give this further consideration. Your son is at the age where he needs to learn how to do things independently. Yes, there should be rules and regulations, and the school should be hyper-vigilant about enforcing them. You are right that the school cannot prevent every potential misdeed. But, do you think that if you give your son clear instructions about your expectations of him, he will consider them? Ask him to tell you how he could protect himself in a variety of scenarios. Make sure he understands the consequences of bad behavior. Speak to the teachers again, and be sure to point out which boys you worry will be instigators of bad behavior. Let the teachers know that you expect them to be on alert 24/7.
My gut says that if you do not let him go on the trip, it will have greater negative repercussions later during the school year when he has to deal with teasing and peer pressure.