Twenty-One for Teens: Case Studies for the 21st Century

By Adriana Murphy

Twenty-one ethical situations with accompanying discussion questions divided into general areas of school, family, and self. Complex case studies explore internet ethics, discrimination, gender and identity, cheating and more.

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Sample Case Study from Twenty-One for Teens

Chapter One: School

Katie McDonough and Lauren Rinehart had been at Stonegate School for Girls since the 3rd grade. They could hardly believe that next fall they would be attending different schools as college freshmen. Katie was more nervous about the coming year than she let on. Lauren was the more outgoing of the two and Katie often relied on Lauren for access to friends and social gatherings. Lauren was pretty, athletic, smart, and people loved being around her. She and Katie became really close a few summers ago when Lauren’s brother was diagnosed with leukemia. Katie was the only one Lauren could talk to without feeling like she had to put on a happy face; no one at school knew about Lauren’s brother.

At the beginning of their senior year, the girls made a pact to have the best year ever. For Katie, that meant letting her guard down a little bit and maybe dating and experimenting with alcohol at parties. After all, she didn’t want to get to college and be caught off guard. She figured it was better to experiment with people she knew and who cared about her. For Lauren, having the best year ever meant showing everyone at school that she wasn’t who they thought.

After weeks of working on college applications, Lauren decided to throw a party to celebrate getting them all finished and turned in. It seemed as though the entire senior classes from Stonegate and Preston, the boys’ school up the road, were at Lauren’s house. Her family was away at a family weekend for hospice patients. Lauren had convinced them that she had too much work to do. Lauren had never given her parents any reason not to trust her.

By 10:00 pm, there were over a hundred people in Lauren’s house. Two Preston boys started playing DJ. The music was loud and everyone seemed to be having a good time. There were beer cans all over the floors and the Rineharts’ liquor cabinet was empty. Every twenty minutes or so random people would come out of bedrooms and new people would go in. A few guys from Preston decided it would be funny to take pictures with their camera phones of the people coming out of the bedrooms and later post the pictures on their Facebook websites.

By 10:30 pm, Katie couldn’t remember how many drinks she had consumed, but she knew that she liked the attention she was getting from Steve—a guy from Preston she had been talking to for the last few days. Steve asked her if she wanted to go upstairs to talk. Katie agreed. The two went upstairs into Lauren’s bedroom and talked. Steve was very respectful. The two talked about what schools they had applied to and what the next few months would bring. After about half an hour, Steve mustered up the courage to ask Katie out. Katie said “yes”. The two kissed and then decided to go back downstairs. When they opened the door, camera phones were snapping everywhere and the guys from Preston were patting Steve on the back, congratulating him and the girls from Stonegate pulled Katie away, desperately wanting to know the details of Katie’s “first time.” “Nothing happened!” Katie replied, but no one believed her.
The next morning, Katie and Lauren woke up with horrible hangovers. “What happened?” Katie asked, still in a daze from the night before. “I don’t know, but my house is trashed and you’d better check this out,” Lauren answered. One of Lauren’s friends from Prescott sent her the link to the Facebook site that contained the pictures from last night’s party. Katie and Steve’s pictures were all over the place with the captions like “Steve Pops Stonegate’s Cherry” and “Katie Goes Wild.”
Katie was mortified and began to cry. All she and Steve did was talk. After a few weeks of humiliation at school, things finally settled down. Soon she would be in college and this whole mess would be over. At least that’s what Katie thought.
Riiiiiinnnnnngggggg. “Hello.”

“Hi, this is Joseph King, the Admissions Director at Ivy College, is Katie McDonough in please?”

“This is Katie.”

“Hi, Katie. I’m calling because we’re considering you for admission to Ivy, but we’re concerned about some pictures we saw of you on Facebook and I was wondering if you could talk to me about them.”

Katie’s throat dropped.

Discussion Questions
1. How did Katie’s situation get to this point?
2. What do you think Lauren meant by “showing everyone at school that she wasn’t who they thought”?
3. Do you know anyone like Lauren? What causes him/her to feel like that?
4. Was Katie’s idea of the “best year ever” realistic? Why or why not?
5. What responsibility do the Preston boys have in this situation? Should Stonegate administrators get involved on behalf of Katie? If so, are there any risks?
6. How would you respond to the Ivy Admissions Director if you were Katie?
7. How do you negotiate the public ramifications of a private experience in a wired world?

Additional Information

  • Type: Book/Review
  • 46 pages
  • Published by CSEE
  • Printed in 2008

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