rp_steffanie_rivers2011-hand-chin-med-150x150.jpgI don’t have children, but at one point in my life I was a 16 year-old girl. I went to church, made good grades and was involved in extra-curricular activities at school. I had a “good-girl” image, but occasionally I did what most teenagers do, such as lie, skip school and other things my mother to this day has never found out about. Still, I didn’t get away with much, because my single-mother once was a teenager herself.

So when I read about the Texas father who found a boy in his daughter’s room and shot and killed the boy after his daughter denied knowing the boy, I believe the father put too much credence in his daughter’s claims, failed to consider the behavior of a typical teenager and over-reacted causing him to needlessly take a life.

You can’t always believe events take place exactly as they are reported in the news. But according to reports, the younger brother of the 16-year-old girl spotted the 17-year-old boy in his sister’s bedroom around 2:30am and alerted his father. Apparently the father went to investigate with gun in hand and found the teens in bed together. For me, that’s where the account of what happened and sound judgment diverge. Did it occur to the father that his daughter might be lying to save her own skin? Why would the girl be in her own bed with someone she doesn’t know? And if she readily admitted to allowing the boy into her room did the father shoot him anyway out of anger? If I found a boy in my daughter’s bed I probably would be angry, but anytime teenagers are involved you have to consider the source and look at all points of view. Dogs bark, babies cry and teenagers will lie.

A homeowner has the right to protect himself and his family from intruders. So the fact that the boy – for all intents and purposes an uninvited stranger – was found in the home in the middle of the night, the law is on the side of the homeowner. That’s why the father hasn’t been charged and probably won’t be indicted by a grand jury for any crime.

Still we have become a society of people who shoot first and ask questions later. Most people have little to no communication skills. Despite the fact that we have become a more multi-cultural society, ironically we are less tolerant and – it seems – more afraid than ever before. Just because one might be within his rights to use deadly force doesn’t mean he should.

After all is said and done the life of a teenager was taken, and for what? For being impulsive and making an immature decision in the name of fun or in the name of love. We’ve all been there. The difference is we were fortunate enough to live through it.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. For questions, comments and speaking inquiries contact her at [email protected]