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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Affluenza - spoilt, rich kid syndrome

Ethan Couch

When 16 year old American teenager Ethan Couch went for a drunken joyride with his friends, he killed four people and injured seven others. His friend Sergio Molina was in the back of his pickup and is now permanently disabled and needs 24/7 care.

It's a tragic case that reeks of racial discrimination - a judge sent a rich white kid to a luxury rehab facility and sent a poor black kid to jail for ten years.  It looks terrible, but when you read the small print, it's not so bad.

I think Judge Jean Boyd is only guilty of being a soft touch who wants to see young offenders rehabilitated and kept out of jail.

Judge Jean Boyd

She believed a psychologist's analysis of Couch who said he was a victim of 'affluenza' - a condition caused by his wealth and privilege, which prevents him from understanding the consequences of his actions.  On this advice, she sent him to rehab and gave him ten years probation.

Last year, she tried to send a black 14 year old boy to rehab but the system let him down and he ended up in jail. In October 2011, the boy was driving in a Cadillac with two friends when he suddenly jumped out and king hit Mark Gregory, a slightly built boy only 5ft 1in tall, who was walking along the street.  He fell and hit his head on the pavement and died two days later. 

Police said the boy had a bad attitude and showed no remorse.  The victim's mother said Judge Boyd was far too soft on the boy who killed her son because she wanted to send him to rehab.  She was glad when nobody would take him and the system sent him to jail.

Sergio Molina before the accident

A psychologist called by Couch's Defense, Dr Gary Miller, blamed the teen's behaviour on his parents, claiming they gave him whatever he wanted including "freedoms no young person should have" and said he was a product of "Affluenza."

Sergio Molina now

When Couch was 15, police found him in a parked pickup with a naked, unconscious 14 year old girl, yet his parents didn't punish him.  They believe their wealth brings special privileges - money can fix any problem - so there was no rational link between behaviour and consequences.  Dr Miller said his parents never taught him to say sorry for anything, instead he learnt that money can always buy you out of trouble.

Prior to sentencing, he testified that Couch's life could be salvaged with one or two year's treatment and no contact with his parents. What a charming indictment of their parenthood.

Judge Boyd readily agreed with the psychologist's analysis and handed down her sentence that caused such outrage.  Because Couch's father said he was prepared to pay, she sentenced him to a private rehabilitation facility near Newport Beach in California, at a cost of $450,000 and ten years good behaviour bond.

Sergio Molina's family are suing Couch and his father's business for $20 million as the pickup involved was owned by the company.

I understand this case very well because I see "affluenza" everywhere - teens with wealthy parents who are spoiling them rotten by giving them everything they want, without doing anything to earn it.  We can only guess what type of adults these children will eventually become.