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Affluenza – or Spoiled Rich Kid?

By: Kelly Tansor, Copy Editor (ktanso2@uic.edu)

A 16-year-old drove drunk one night and killed 4 people. The families of these victims have to wake up every day knowing their son or daughter is no longer there. What’s more, two others were injured in the crash, and one of them was injured so badly that she can no longer move or speak. All because some teenager and his friends thought it would be fun to get drunk off of stolen beer from Wal-Mart.

So what is this teenager’s punishment? 20 years in jail? Terminated license? Nope – probation and some time in rehab. The reason – affluenza.
Texas native Ethan Couch, 16, had a blood alcohol level of 0.24 during the time of the crash back in June. His victims include a mother and daughter, a friend of the daughter, and a youth pastor. He was drinking underage, driving drunk, and speeding. The sad thing is he won’t spend a second behind bars because of the incident. The defense argues that this is because of how Ethan was raised and led to something the defense psychologist classifies as “affluenza.”
Ethan comes from a wealthy family, giving him privilege and no consequences for bad behavior. He was never punished for any wrongdoings growing up, including being caught in a parked pickup truck with a young girl who was passed out, drinking at a young age, and driving before he was even in high school. The defense argues that Ethan needs treatment – not prison – in order to rectify his wrongdoings, so that he can be “rehabilitated” by being away from his family in rehab – which his dad is paying for.
So, because Ethan was never punished in the past, it’s reasonable for him not to be punished now?!
This case perpetuates the idea that as long as you have money, you can get away with anything. If Ethan had come from a poorer or even a middle-class family, he certainly would not be treated the same way. I guarantee you he would be rotting in jail right now.
Coming from a family of wealth and prominence gives kids the idea that they can do and say whatever we want. We see this with celebrities. Last Fall, for example, Jaden Smith released a series of tweets that came under fire. Some of the tweets included, “If everybody in the world dropped out of school we would have a much more intelligent society”, “If newborn babies could speak they would be the most intelligent beings on planet Earth”, and “Most trees are blue”. This shows how disengaged from the real world many wealthy people and celebrities are. Especially if you are a celebrity (or the son of a celebrity) and you’re surrounded by people patting you on the back telling you what a great person you are.
I know many parents spoil their kids today, especially when they have enough money to do so, to the point that many of these kids throw tantrums the minute they hear, “No,” or, “Don’t do that.” I’ve even seen teenagers do this. The more we spoil today’s youth and basically kiss their ass instead of having their ass be handed to them when they deserve it, it can lead to dangerous consequences – like no jail time after murdering four people after underage drinking and driving.

The spoiled children in our generation are literally getting away with murder because their parents have not raised them properly. They keep thinking that Mommy and Daddy’s money will solve everything. It will be a harsh reality for them the day they realize that Mommy and Daddy can’t fix all your problems anymore.
If you want to decide for yourself if affluenza is a legitimate excuse for…well, anything, the disease even has its own website at http://www.affluenza.org/.

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1 Comment

  1. david tansor says:

    Great article Kelly you are so right. It is a shame what some people are allowed to get away with.
    Keep up the good work.

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