When Columbia County Chief Magistrate Judge Wade Padgett presented two "Teenage Years 101" seminars in September, parents and teens might not have been sure about what to expect.
The next two seminars are coming up this week. And the most amazing thing to be expected, even hoped for, is that once again the demand is so high that the room can't hold them all.
Padgett will talk to parents on Monday at 7 p.m. at Augusta Prep's new Performing Arts Center; he'll return at 7 p.m. Wednesday to meet with teen-agers.
At the first two sessions, Padgett made it clear that he wasn't there to pass judgement on teens or their behavior; his role was simply to make clear the difference between legal and illegal activities - even if the discussion made the audience squeamish.
"I'm going to get you uncomfortable in here," Padgett told his teen audience last month, "so you won't have to be uncomfortable with one of these deputies. ... I think you know what is morally right and wrong; I'm going to teach you what's legally right and wrong."
To see just how vital that information can be, look no further than the teen advice column that appears in The Augusta Chronicle. This past week, a young girl asked whether oral sex is sex, and whether it would be OK to attend a party in which girls perform such acts on boys.
Not only is oral sex in fact sex, Padgett points out in his presentation, but the activity can mean the difference between a misdemeanor or a major felony. In fact, under Georgia's recently amended law, oral sex can result in a charge of aggravated sodomy and a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence in prison.
"And they don't have a prison for little boys, or for weak girls, or for nice people," Padgett points out.
There's a lot more than just sex in Padgett's presentation: He also covers Internet dangers, alcohol and drugs, and driving offenses, spelling out the potential crimes and punishments in all of them.
Padgett's presentation has a two-fold purpose: It helps parents and teens understand the dangers and realities they face, and shows them how to avoid them; and, it removes any possible excuse from those who show up in his court claiming ignorance of the law.
Padgett has said he will continue to schedule the seminars as long as there is demand, which likely ensures him plenty of extra evenings. He's done far more than his part already: It is the obligation of every parent to do their part by making sure they and their children hear his message, too.
Columbia County Chief Magistrate Judge Wade Padgett will present "Teenage Years 101," on the implications of being a teenager in modern society including laws on sex, substance abuse and driving, for adults at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, 2006 at Augusta Prep's Performing Arts Center. A session for teens age 13-19 will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2006, at Augusta Prep. For information, call (706) 868-3316.
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