Dear Ms. Jones,

Your son Terrence was recently caught selling drugs in our school. This is a fairly serious offense, and it has repercussions that will haunt him for years. What’s worse, Terrence is at risk for creating new habits (or reinforcing existing habits) that will land him in jail.

Your son is at a critical juncture in his life. What you do, as a parent now, seems so important that I feel foolish for mentioning it. However, I recently heard something that makes me wonder if you’re taking things as seriously as you should.

Several students were talking about how, though Terrence is no longer a student at our school, they are still in regular contact with him. How? “Terrence texted me last night and then again this morning,” one said to another, oblivious to the implications of what she was saying.

I don’t know how to say this other than to be blunt: if my kid were caught selling drugs, among the many, many profoundly negative consequences I would level on him—the most basic being simply to let the justice system take its course—one of the very first consequences would be the total and permanent disappearance of his phone as well as all of his social media access. That he would continue life as usual after such an incredible transgression is to me so unimaginable. Everything would change.

Everything should change for Terrence now, because in the eyes of the law, everything already has. You should begin taking away some of his freedoms now before he does something that forces society to take all his freedom.

Terrence’s Teacher


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