Imagine for a moment that it's a little later in the summer, sometime in early July. You're taking the family out for a boat ride on the Potomac when your 14-year-old son suddenly stands up, loses his balance and falls overboard. Frantically, as you're fumbling for the life preserver, a police boat pulls alongside and prevents you from throwing a flotation device to your struggling son.
Sound like a bad dream? Talk to Debbie and Lynn Whitesel of Dauphin County, Pa. Their 17-year-old son was drowning in a sea of alcohol abuse, but a state law prevented them from forcing him into the treatment that might have saved his life. We agree with the Whitesels - it's time to change this law.
The law in question is a 1972 statute which says any Pennsylvania child 14 or older must give his or her consent before entering a drug- or alcohol-treatment program. The law also protects the confidentiality of any child entering such a program.