Texas Teen Wolves Say Their Bark is Worse Than Their Bite
There are teenage werewolves roaming the streets of San Antonio, Texas.
They have fangs, tails and eerie animal eyes. One werewolf feature they do not have, however, is fur.
This is San Antonio, after all. The average temperature for the next six months will be from the 80s into the triple digits. No one wants to be covered in fur.
That would be weird.
Teenagers -- filled with adolescent angst and drawn to the macabre -- often make dark fashion statements. There are goths, of course, but teens also indulge their imaginations and shock their elders with witches' covens and vampire clans. Now, here come the werewolves.
"We're not to be feared," one of them tells KENS 5, the CBS affiliate in San Antonio.
Who's afraid of the big, bad wolves? Hardly anyone, actually.
"They walk down the hallways and meld into the fabric of the school and don't seem to be troublesome in the school environment," Brandeis High School head counselor Bill Hill tells the station.
The teens can be spotted by the furry little tails they hang from their rear ends, the animal-like contact lenses on their eyes and their dark hair and clothes.
"We're not a gang at all," a teen wolf who calls herself Katze Lupus Burn tells KENS 5. "Gangs are like posers. They just want attention. That's why they go along tagging stuff. The pack? We're a family. We go to each other for our problems."
Werewolf myths are ancient. One of the first recorded werewolf stories, by the Roman poet Ovid, tells the tale of Lycaon, a king of Arcadia, who is turned into a wolf by the gods for attempting to disprove the divinity of Zeus.
Werewolf legends gained renewed popularity with the horror movies of the '30s and '40s, and teenage werewolves soon followed.
Before he was Little Joe on "Bonanza," Michael Landon was the title character in 1957's "I Was a Teenage Werewolf." Similarly, Michael J. Fox was "Teen Wolf" in 1985. And who can forget Jason Bateman in "Teen Wolf Too" in 1987? (Well, actually, probably just about everyone.)
Now, the "Teen Wolf" movies are about to become a television series produced by MTV.
However, kids too young to remember Landon, Fox and Bateman might consider Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black in the "Twilight" saga movie "New Moon" to be the quintessential teen wolf.
Whatever their inspiration, San Antonio teenagers who identify with werewolves are getting more understanding than resentment from the adults in their community.
"Young people are looking to define their identities sometimes to come together and affiliate around a theme or an idea, just really to belong, that sense of belonging," Dr. Deborah Healy, a counselor at San Antonio's Northside School District, tells KENS.
The teens tell the station they find that belonging as werewolves.
"You get friends," a kid who calls himself Deikitsen Wolfram Lupus tells KENS. "You get a place where you belong. You're pretty much accepted to where you are, who you are, what you are."
Northside School District officials tell the TV station the would-be wolves are not allowed to wear their tails, chains or anything else that violates school dress codes to class.
Pam Manley, whose son is a "werewolf," tells KENS she has similar rules at home. Once he comes home, she says, the leash he wears comes off. So do the fangs and contact lenses. He is to pull his long hair back and tend to his chores and studies.
Nonetheless, she tells KENS, she admires him for expressing himself.
"They're good kids," she adds. "And it takes some courage to stand up and be who you want to be and be able to express yourself in this way."
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.