Jackie Gingrich Cushman

The crime was brought to light through social media, and much of the trial focused on the trail of text messages between cellphones.

Judge Thomas Lipps commented after sentencing Mays and Richardson to a minimum of two and one year, respectively, for the rape that "it provides great incentive to do well." Both teenagers broke into tears after the verdict was read.

Ma'lik's father, Nathaniel Richardson, spoke in the courtroom after the sentencing, placing part of the blame on himself. "Everyone knows I wasn't there for my son," he said. "I feel responsible for his actions. I feel highly responsible for his actions."

A permissive environment for teenagers, a large amount of alcohol, minimal if any supervision from the parents -- a recipe for disaster.

Monitoring the Future, a long-term study of American adolescents, has been conducted annually by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research since its inception in 1975.

The peak in binge drinking according to the survey was in 1981, when "41 percent of 12th-graders reported having five or more drinks in a row on at least one occasion in the two weeks prior to the survey." This past year, it was 24 percent.

While the results have dramatically declined, a quarter of the high school seniors still reported that they had been involved in binge drinking in the past two weeks.

How vulnerable to bad decisions, either theirs or someone else's, did that leave them?

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.