Are parents shirking their duties?

Where are parents in the equation these days?

At the federal level, a judge and the Food and Drug Adminstration have ordered that the “morning after pill” be made available to girls as young as 15 years old without parental consent or a prescription.

And now, Gov. Jay Inslee has signed a law that allows underage drinkers to call for medical assistance without fear of prosecution. Again, there are no provisions for parental involvement.

I guess I’m not in the Hillary Clinton camp — meaning I don’t believe it takes a village to raise a child. I’m of the opinion it takes two good parents.

Both the state and federal laws were written to give children who fear parental reprisal an easy out. And yes, there are cases where parental reactions could pose a danger to children and underage drinkers.

But don’t you think children should have to own up to teenage sexual activites and underage drinking, at least to their parents?

Giving youth an easy way out is not the answer, in most cases.

I must admit that I understand the need for the state’s new alcohol medical law.

Gov. Inslee referenced 18-year-old Washington State University freshman Kenney Hummel when he signed the bill into law.

Hummel died last October after being found in a dorm room with a blood-alcohol level five times the legal limit. He clearly needed medical assistance and this law may have kept him alive if others drinking with him had called for help without fear of prosecution.

But the law is a reaction to the problem of underage drinking, not the solution. The same can be said of the morning after pill being made available to young girls without parental involvement.

Reading the 2012 Healthy Youth Survey, you’d be amazed how close to home these new federal and state decisions hit.

According to the survey, two-thirds of high school seniors in Okanogan County are sexually active. And at least half of Ferry County high school seniors reported having sex at least once.

Dropping to the middle school level, 2.1 percent of Okanogan County eighth-graders said they had sex at age 11 or younger. No Ferry County eighth-graders reported having sex at that age.

Do you think your 15- or 16-year-old isn’t having sex? Better think again.

According to the survey, more than a third of Okanogan County sophomores are sexually active. In Ferry County, more than a quarter of 10th-graders reported having sex.

With only about a third of them using condoms, there’s a good chance that the morning after pill may become a mainstay in your teenage daughter’s pocket.

And what about alcohol?

Our North-Central Washington youth imbibe more than their peers across the state.

The survey said 41 percent of Ferry County high school seniors drank alcohol in the 30 days prior to taking the survey. In Okanogan County, 37.5 percent had.

So let me ask again ... where are the parents?

And why aren’t we, as a society, encouraging better parenting rather than waiting for government to pass laws to look after our youth?

Roger Harnack is the editor and publisher of The Chronicle. He can be reached at 509-826-1110 or via email at


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