Rich, poor, black, white — it doesn't matter — teenagers can make horribly bad decisions, no matter how often we explain that sometimes consequences can't be reversed.
But we can't stop trying.
St. Petersburg police say a joyride in a stolen car for teens Laniya Miller, Ashaunti Butler and Dominique Battle ended in a tragic crash last week that leaves only memories.
I would give anything to jump into the Royal Palm North Cemetery pond where the car landed, pull the girls to safety and give them a second chance.
Now, all we can really hope for — in the wake of more teenagers dying way too soon — is some sort of wisdom to fall upon the adolescents still with us.
Teachers, family, friends and neighbors need to share this cautionary tale, because sometimes teens reach an age where they stop listening to mom and dad.
And mom and dad need to realize they don't have to do it alone. Through sports, specialized interests, etc., kids can turn off the noise inside their heads and get the clarity they need.
I recently met the finalists for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast Youth of the Year Award, and they spoke not only of aspirations fueled by the guidance they found at the clubs, but how they wished they could have persuaded friends to follow their path. One already has lost a friend to murder. Another heads to college while her friend has dropped out and gotten pregnant.
Something right clicked with them, and they got on track.
We can't rest until it clicks with more. Counsel, cajole, warn, lecture, write, text, post — but deliver a positive message to the teens in your life.
And wrap each word in love.
That's all I'm saying.