Teens Hanging Out

Archived Q&A and Reviews



15-year-old wants to hang out on Telegraph Ave

Jan 2005

I know I've read some things about this before but for the life of me I'm scouring the message boards and can't find the info anymore. I have a 15 1/2 yr. old son who loves to just go over to Berkeley (from the other side of the tunnell) and hang out with friends. They say they just like to go in and out of stores but I hear them talking about how someone asked them if they wanted to buy drugs, etc. This is all daytime stuff. I have one girlfriend who says it's harmless and another who says ... no way. So far, we're been fortunate with him not getting into much trouble and keeping his grades high. There is not much to do in these sleepy towns on weekends so Berkeley is very appealing. For those of you who live in Berkeley and are reading this ... is it ok for me to drop them off to hang out for a few hours and then have them take Bart back? I'd really like some advice on this. Thanks. confused mom

If your son's 15 1/2 he's at that in between age where it's so curiousity provoking and tempting and inviting for his cool quotient. If it's daytime I guess I'd let him go till I felt my trust had been betrayed. They just feel so happy and cool when they're familiar with Telegraph and the street people and the scene. You only have the opportunity to parent for a short time more so doling out trust is somewhat reinforcing of being deserving of it, in my opinion. I'm not saying more than once a week or whatever fits in with his schedule, but just enough so that he's feeling trusted and rewarded for his, presumably, good grades and dedication and hard work at school :-) Anonymous Berkeley Mom

Luckily, my kids live in Berkeley and only go to Telegraph to shop or eat. Give your kid a break from the suburbs. Make sure you give and he agrees to a time schedule; try not to give him too much money and TALK when he gets back. If he's not willing to talk about what he sees/saw on Telegraph, he doesn't get to go for awhile. Remind him of something stupid you did when you were a teenager, but grateful it turned out okay ... or something like that. Mom of 14 and 17 yr old

Hi, For what it's worth,we live in Berkeley, and my 15 year old son and his friends regularly hang out together on Telegraph. They also hang out in downtown Berkeley and on Solano Ave. My guess is there is nothing offered on Telegraph that isn't offered at school. So we let him go and trust him to make the right choices. Jamie

Ah, the old Berkeley drug-haven dilemma! It's been going on for years. Berkeley, like most University towns in the U.S., draws a very diverse crowd. Of course there are those who would, and do, offer drugs to rambling teens who are gadding about the place. On the other hand, most likely no one is forcing the kids to take it, and drugs usually aren't offered for free. I, for one, have never even been offered a free trial in the 40+ years I've lived here!

So your question is whether Berkeley is a safe daytime activity for mid-teenaged people, and I would say by all means, Yes. That is, as long as you trust that you child isn't trying to cop drugs and has the common sense to Just Say No, either by ignoring the offers or simply saying, ''no thanks.'' If your child, or their friends, really want drugs, a visit to Berkeley isn't a shoo-in to a dime bag, neither is it the safest, cleanest place in the world to be hanging out. But then, neither are S.F., New York, Boston or Los Angeles.

Berkeley can be a very fun place to just hang out and do ''nothing,'' and I do think it's perfectly okay to drop them off for a few hours during the day. Heather

The parent who has concerns about their teen commuting to hang out on Telegraph has every reason to be concerned. We live in Berkeley not far from Telegraph and we would not let our teens hang out on Telegraph (to go to Cody's or the record store, yes...but not just to hang out). The scene is not healthy. Besides, there are a lot better things to do. There are some very amazing (and cool) people doing creative things in Berkeley (and elsewhere). Your son should hang out with them. For further thoughts on related issues I highly recommend the book ''Our Last Best Shot'' by Stepp. You can pick it up at Cody's. Berkeley parent

There is nothing wrong with hanging out in Berkeley on Shattuck or Telegraph if you know your kid and who he's hanging out with. There are drugs. There are street people. There are a lot of students. I would make sure your son has a cell phone, and make it mandatory that the phone is on. Make sure your kid has a curfew and that it's adhered to. Find out who specifically he's going to hang out with. Spell out for your son what kind of behavior is not OK, and tell him what the consequences will be if his phone is not answering, he gets home late, or he buys or uses drugs. Berkeley Mom

Both my kids liked hanging out on Telegraph - we live within walking distance. There are lots of people there and I think it's safe. The one thing I'd do is mention to them that the street people often target young kids to hit up for spare change. Kids are a soft touch. I'm still explaining that they don't have to do everything anyone wants them to do. You might give your kids some hints about how to say sorry, no or otherwise plan ahead how to respond. a mom

Son hanging out on Shattuck Av on Friday nights

Sept 2004

My son is hanging out with his friends on Shattuck avenue on Friday with what appears to me as no destination. Is this area safe. It wasn't several years ago. worried

I sent this to another post tonight about unsupervised parties but it contains stuff about Shattuck Avenue. I would not be too worried if your teen is age 14 - 16 maybe 17? kinda pushing it. I know this is the stage where they are looking for themselves seperate from us. Some of the teens are individuals and this is where they congregate, along with the Gilman, etc. I would be clear howeve that it is not due to any problems at home and is not directly drug related. good luck all the best and remember this is only my opinion on the matter. A mom.

Ok, so they all say that!!!!!!!! and for some it is true. I am a very liberal mom but I also enforce boundaries because they still need them. My teen is 15 and can go to say the Gilman with friends but most often is picked up by her dad or another parent, why? so that she can not get too out of hand. I fully expect and know that in fact most teens are experimenting with pot and alcohol occasionally, once or often so don't fuss but keep a close, close eye on it.

I try to reach a compromise in these situations, like what if I was there? Or how about doing it like________________________? If there is NO alternative but NO supervision then she can't go. She screams and wails but I wait it out as patiently as I can muster. She has learned from this that I don't let her do this stuff and she accepts what she can get and she gets more freedom than lots of teens do. I allow her to have freedom with RESPONSIBLITY. Wtih Freedom comes the greatest of all responsiblities and she needs to learn that NOW. I remind her of this regulary. I let out the rope, apron strings, and see how she does. If she messes up or I suspect strongly she has I reel it in a bit and then try again. But there is no way she is going to a party with no adult. She has tried the ''everyone is going to the beach and staying the night, why can't I go with teenage drivers and no adult?''. She doesn't try it anymore, she is not stupid and I suspect you teen isn't either. They know when we talk about drinking and driving and no supervision in case something happens or someone gets drunk and decides to drive what might happen.

By the way she is a regular at the park and hanging out on Shattuck or other local spots but she is one of the most responsible least drugged out teens there. A hallmark of this is that she regulates herself with minimal input from me at Berkeley High's Independent Study program. She also absolutely hates hard drugs, period and doesn't associate with the teens who engage in them. She has had a lot of education about the ''real'' world and drugs and sex. This too could be a subject that needs addressing here. We were lucky and got it through speaking plainly to her her entire life and through an education plan at the UU church that intensified as they grew from 12 - 14. good luck hope this helps.