Teenage Wasteland

Teenagers face a lot of stress, too (courtesy of the AASA)

“Don’t cry/Don’t raise your eye/It’s only teenage wasteland.” –From “Baba O’Riley” by The Who

Never were song lyrics more applicable or relatable than they were these last few weeks. Teenagers across our great nation left all their worries, inhibitions, concerns, logic and even common sense behind, choosing instead to break the rules, wreak havoc, embrace chaos and, in one tragic case, end a life.

Yes, it was a rough couple of weeks for teenagers, but rougher still for those whose paths led them into this Teenage Wasteland.

TAYLORSVILLE, UTAH

Richard Portillo had a real passion for soccer. So he often spent his free time serving as a referee for Fut International, a Hispanic soccer league for kids age 5 to 17. Games were held in his Salt Lake City suburb, which made volunteering even easier for him.

Sadly for Portillo, the April 27th game he refereed would turn out to be his last.

Portillo died doing what he loved (courtesy of KSL 5 TV)

Following a clear penalty, Portillo issued a yellow card to a 17-year-old player, warning him that a second card would lead to his ejection from the game. As Portillo was recording the incident on his notepad, the carded player suddenly turned around and punched him in the head, allegedly behind his ear and towards his neck.

The player was immediately tossed out and after experiencing some dizziness, Portillo managed to walk away, seemingly unharmed. Unfortunately, things took a drastic turn for the worst as Portillo’s condition deteriorated. First came the headaches, followed by disorientation and eventually, he slipped into a coma. And he remained in that state until Sunday, when he finally died from his injuries.

And all because some teenager couldn’t control himself or accept the consequences of his actions. Too bad things are out of his hands now. Currently, the charge against this violent teen is only aggravated assault, but rumor has it that an upgrade could be coming. For now, he remains in juvenile detention and, unless I’m horribly mistaken, he should probably get used to it… at least until he’s old enough to relocate to prison.

PROSPECT HEIGHTS, ILLINOIS

Give a 14-year-old an iPad and you just never know what will happen.

In this suburb outside Chicago, the teenager in question used his Apple device to access one of those online sex dating sites. He somehow arranged for a prostitute and soon welcomed 22-year-old Dareka Brooks into his home.

Dareka Brooks, 22, of Milwaukee is charged with one count of armed robbery. (Prospect Heights Police)

Dareka Brooks. He should have slammed the door in her face (courtesy of Prospect Heights Police)

After asking the young man to undress—which I’m sure he did since we all know what he was expecting—Brooks pulled out some pepper spray and attacked him. She escaped with his iPad, a jar full of money and—get this—his piggybank.

Fortunately, the authorities used the iPad to locate and arrest Brooks a short time later. She has been charged with armed robbery and will appear in court at the end of the month. The young victim appears to be safe, from everything but his parents’ wrath, that is. By now he probably wishes he was in jail… or feels like he is after being grounded for the rest of his teenage life.

Poor, horny bastard.

WALWORTH, WISCONSIN

Police from Wisconsin to Illinois are on the lookout for a tan pickup truck pulling a white RV and allegedly heading to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Inside the vehicle are three suspects thought to be responsible for robbing a Walworth gas station last Thursday. What sets this case apart, though, is the fact that only one of the suspects—the getaway driver—was an adult.

The infamous Sly Stone (courtesy of The Radio Cure)

The armed robbers were kids: a girl between the ages of 10-13 and a boy aged 13-15. They burst into the gas station around 9 a.m., held the clerk at gunpoint, forced him to open the safe, grabbed the cash, jumped into the waiting truck and hauled ass. The vehicle was last seen heading south towards the Wisconsin-Illinois state line.

Authorities believe the suspects to be con artists who pose as a family, claim to need help and swindle money from local businesses and churches. And if nothing else, they also show just how dangerous crime can be when it becomes—to steal a phrase from Sly and the Family Stone—a “family affair.”

CHEVY CHASE, MARYLAND

Have the unfortunate events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombings taught teenagers nothing?

In the case of Maryland’s Kyle Druckemiller—a 19-year-old who goes by the name Fuhrer on his Twitter page—the answer is obviously “no.”

Earlier this month, Druckemiller was arrested after his girlfriend’s father—suspicious since the young man once brought a loaded gun into his Germantown home—searched his duffel bag and made another shocking discovery. Inside the bag were several pipe bombs, a nine-volt battery, an improvised detonator, two timers and an alligator clip with wires.

Druckemiller just realized why “bomb” and “dumb” end in the same two letters (courtesy of Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office)

Basically everything Druckemiller needed to create his own brand of domestic terrorism, if he so desired.

The good news is that nothing happened because the misguided young man is being held on $500,000 bond. If convicted, he could face as many as 25 years in prison, not to mention a $250,000 fine. Needless to say, the threat of such a punishment has caused Druckemiller to be very compliant.

He told authorities that he learned to make the bombs on YouTube, which certainly comes as no surprise. And like the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston, Druckemiller used components he took from fireworks to make the bombs—fireworks that were legally purchased in South Carolina and transported all the way back to Maryland.

Does anyone else sense a pattern forming here?

OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS

Our final story comes from Blue Valley High School in Kansas, where a seemingly harmless senior prank resulted in 100 students being suspended late last week.

In yet another display of teenage rebellion—and poor decision-making—students from Blue Valley broke a window near the pool area, poured inside, stripped down to their bathing suits—as far as I know—and proceeded to swim and cavort until a school resource officer discovered them. He prevented the students from leaving and by the time it was all said and done, all 100 students had been suspended for the remainder of Thursday and all day Friday—a forced three-day weekend that some of the students appreciated, especially seniors.

Other students, however, weren’t so pleased.

The faces of the suspended students (courtesy of KCTV 5)

“It’s a vacation for the seniors because most of them have already checked out,” sophomore David Gressgott explained later. “But for me and my friends, we’re missing class. I have a test tomorrow that I’m going to be missing and might not be able to make up.”

Some parents were also upset by the punishment, which was even applied to a young man who never jumped into the pool, but stood and recorded the incident on his cell phone.

“I don’t think it’s fair that underclassmen that were watching and not participating got suspended for simply watching a senior prank,” David Gressgott’s mother Susan told reporters.

Though I understand what she means, the fact is that once students broke into the pool area—and everyone piled in, both swimmers and spectators—a crime had already been committed. And as they always say, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

Being a teenager isn’t easy. We all know that from either living through that period in our own lives or dealing with kids who are experiencing it now. Between raging hormones, the quest for identity and acceptance, sexual insecurities, hasty decisions and everything else tossed into the mix, it’s a wonder more teenagers don’t behave like the ones mentioned here. Actually, they probably do, only the smart ones don’t get caught or never do anything serious enough to draw attention.

Whatever the case may be, the truth is that as long as there are teenagers, there will always be teenagers in trouble. And what The Who referred to as “teenage wasteland” will undoubtedly continue with each passing generation.

It’s as predictable as night and day.

Posted on May 6, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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