Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook

A Mother's Plea

Posted March 20, 2007

Listen to her, listen closely.  That's all that Dr. Rosemarie Newman is asking parents and teenagers to do.  Listen, pay attention, your life may depend upon it...

Newman is a small woman with a measured voice, the voice of a mother, the voice of a mother who is grieving.  Like a well-constructed symphony her passion and anger build when she speaks.  Suddenly, out of nowhere she is shouting to no one in particular, maybe to her son in heaven, she screams up at the sky: "What was he thinking?"  There is stunned silence in the auditorium at Wakefield High School.  Newman's pain hangs in the air like a black cloud enveloping the solemn crowd.

Was he thinking that he might lose his life when he got into a car with a driver who had been drinking?  No.  Was he thinking that it wasn't a good idea to go to a party where underage people were drinking alcohol?  No.  Was he thinking when his mother repeatedly callled him on his cell phone and asked him to come home that he should act accordingly?  No.

Newman is mad.  She is mad at her son for not paying attention, not listening this one time.  "It's not about good kids and bad kids," she says.  Even good kids make bad choices.  Her son, Sadiki Young, whose picture fills the stage in the auditorium with a mega-watt smile that you simply cannot turn away from, was a good kid.  But Newman believes the bad choices he made that night contributed to his death. 

Newman does not tread lightly.  She does not sugarcoat the tragedy with memories of happier times.  She tells it like it is.  Young will not graduate this year from Wakefield High School with the rest of his class.  He will never kick a soccer ball again, play the guitar or take a planned summer trip to England with his family.  He will never wear a robe and carry the cross down the aisle at his church again.  He will never again hug his mother. 

Are you listening?  Are you paying attention?  Newman hopes so.  As the mother of girls who will someday be teenagers I know I am.

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  • packandcanesfan Mar 22, 2007

    I saw her speak on the news and it broke my heart. Teenagers need to learn that they are not invincible and bad things can happen to them. Drinking and driving don't mix for any driver. Old, young, experienced or not.

  • theoneuadore Mar 22, 2007

    Wow that was very touching and even though my son is 2 I still know that I have to ay attention. This message is not just for kids though it is for everyone that may make that bad choice just one time that might cause them there life. Thanks for the insight.

  • Lion-Heart Mar 22, 2007

    I told my son and daughter to call me if they ever found they were in a situation unsafe or felt uncomfortable in. I received such a call from my daughter one night and responded. No questions were asked and no actions taken with her at that time. She did what I had asked her to do. Another person at this same party was later arrested on a intoxication charge. Tell your kids to call you when something like this happens. They are kids and will make mistakes in life just as we as their parents have done. Just make sure they can depend on and trust in you.

  • pirate lady Mar 21, 2007

    I have always told my son I don't care where you are or what time of the night it is if you are in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation call me. I will come get you. No questions asked. Just have the good sense to call me. I took many risks when I was a teenager because I was more worried about what my parents would do that what the consequences of my behavior could be. My heart breaks for Dr. Newman and I cry every time I see her son's beautiful smiling face.

  • Mom V Mar 21, 2007

    Dr. Newman is truly a hero in my eyes. I hope she continues reaching out to kids. My heart goes out to Dr. Newman for her loss. Hopefully through your talk, you have saved another mother the pain of losing her child through such a stupid act. My prayers are with you

  • lil bo peep Mar 21, 2007

    My heart is broken for this mother. I have teenagers and they also think they have all the answers. I pray for their safety every day, sometimes more. It is my worst fear that I will be that mother receiving the news her child has been killed. It is by grace it hasn't happened. My prayers are with you Dr. Newman. I pray the Lord will give you the strength to continue speaking out to the young.

  • thinktwice Mar 21, 2007

    You know people may say I'm stupid for saying this but I wonder, do we really need alcohol, they say we don't need cigarettes it kills us, why can't the just stop making things that will kill us. cigarettes causes cancer, people smoke it anyway and they want to sue the company for making it. beer and other alcohol cause you to get drunk and lose your sense of thinking, wedon't sue budweiser? why do we insist on making products that causes people to lose their lives? I know it's a stupid question because, again it's a chioce people make, but if they didn't produce it people couln't buy it. just a thougt.

  • WXYZ Mar 21, 2007

    Words and testimony will affect some teenagers.

    Some life-size pictures of the crumpled, bloody car and the bloody road and the dead people in body bags would help prove the reality of the situation and help convince the more aloof, rebellious, reckless and immature teenagers to appreciate and believe that the risk of drunk driving is too great.

  • nsanity Mar 20, 2007

    The problem is, that even with tragedies like this, teenagers still think "Aww, that's a shame but it wont happen to me." I just wish that she could have spoken at our high school.

  • oceanchild71 Mar 20, 2007

    What a courageous lady and what a selfless act. To go out there so relatively soon after her son's death to try to get the message through to his peers. Let's hope at least some of these kids finally get it: IF YOU DRINK, DON'T DRIVE!!!

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