Wednesday, September 25, 2013

300 Teens Throw Party at Ex-NFL Player's Home

              This past Labor Day weekend in Stephentown, NY, over 300 teens broke into the vacation home of former NFL player, Brian Holloway. While at home in his permanent residence in Florida, Holloway watched the event unfold online as hundreds of teens gathered at his residence to throw a party before police were able to intervene. Throughout the night these teenagers, under the influence of alcohol and various drugs, smashed windows, urinated on floors, punched holes in walls and ceilings, spray painted walls, and even stole the headstone of Holloway’s grandson who died at birth. All in all there were over $20,000 worth of damage.

An event like this certainly calls for action. Action on the part of the parents, police, teenagers involved and Brian Holloway. Most people under similar circumstances as Holloway would likely be moved to press charges, however that is not the position Holloway has taken. Instead, he created a website, The site includes photos posted during and after the party on various social media venues by the teens themselves in an effort to help police identify the participants. Holloway’s intention has never been to simply ID the participants in order to punish them, but “to turn this moment into a movement” by giving the 300 an opportunity to reconcile and assuage their actions by turning them into ambassadors to reach out to others with the message of “accountability and reconciliation…[and] save lives”. This calls for repentance on the part of the teens, and unfortunately that is not a position many have taken.
In a shocking twist to this story, not only did these teens boast of their actions on Twitter, Instagram, etc., their parents actually came to their defense. While Holloway could have easily demanded that identified kids be taken under arrest, ultimately generating criminal records, he merely tried to turn the event into a learning experience to generate a higher level or moral character and accountability. Parents of these teens, however, are now threatening violence and lawsuits. Parents are angry that Holloway identifyed their children online based on the argument that he is undermining their opportunity to get into college, despite the fact that their own children were initially responsible for posting pictures and messages from the party.
What’s more is that Holloway had been planning a party for active and retired military personnel and their families at his NY property. In an attempt to prepare his home and allow the teens an opportunity to right their wrongs, he invited the 300 to come clean and repair damages. Of the hundreds, only one came to help.
Here is a case of outrageous behavior, where rather than encouraging the participants to learn from their mistakes, their actions were defended. Here we see a case of harassing the victim rather than encouraging the aggressors to take responsibility for their actions. It is important to learn from this event. As individuals, families and communities we frequently make mistakes and must decide how we face them. Do we shirk responsibility or do we hold each other responsible in a way that encourages growth and learning?
This story has certainly generated quite a bit of discussion over the past several weeks. What are your thoughts?

(Excerpted in part from NPR, September 20, 2013 & WGY, September 20, 2013)

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