(CNN) – Attorneys for Texas teen Ethan Couch claimed that his “affluenza” meant he was blameless for driving drunk and causing a crash that left four people dead in June.
Simply put, Couch, 16, claims that his condition stemmed from having wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for him.
Judge Jean Boyd sentenced him Tuesday to 10 years of probation but no jail time, saying she would work to find him a long-term treatment facility.
But Eric Boyles, who lost his wife and daughter in the crash, said on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” “There are absolutely no consequences for what occurred that day. The primary message has to absolutely be that money and privilege can’t buy justice in this country.”
Is “affluenza” real? Or is it a way for coddled children and adolescents to evade consequences for their actions?
Not surprisingly, “affluenza” does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, the “psychiatric Bible.”
But the term highlights the issue of parents, particularly upper-middle-class ones, who not only refuse to discipline their children but may protest the efforts of others — school officials, law enforcement and the courts — who attempt to do so, said Suniya Luthar, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University.
“There are families where very, very few limits are set at a time when they should be,” she said. By age 16, she noted, it’s too late: “The horse is out of the barn.”
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