When I think back to my younger days and the parties I used to attend, I know that if the police came, we gave them a bit of ‘verbal stick’ but nothing much else. Yes the Springbok Tour brought out something in my compatriots and some violence did ensue, but something in me always took me away before things got too heated.
One of these scenarios was booze-driven while the other was ‘belief based’. Both have in common the fact that we chose to put ourselves in those situations. I guess it is easy to look back and in hindsight, say that things were different then.
They were. Parties got out of hand from time to time. I think we loosely used the term, ‘gate crashing.’ That was when we drove around looking for parties or we may have heard about one and just turned up without an invite. That sometimes led to problems and the police may have come. Usually, it only took their presence and things toned down and the party dispersed.
Now it seems that the police are regularly called out to disperse such gatherings. What is most noticeably different is the age of the ‘attendees.’ When you hear that young people, ranging in age from 12-17 are off-their- heads on drugs or alcohol (or a mixture of the two) you have to wonder at where things are going from here. What can the police do?
They can try to lessen the effects of these gatherings or arrest the worst of them---then what? --- Call in their parents? --- Take them to the cells?
Are we just going to standby and say---‘it’s normal for kids to let off a bit of steam?’ I say no. We must draw a line in the sand. It must be so hard for parents to know every move their kids make. They know that if they take a strong stand; one that is perilously close to using a physical response, that they will come a cropper re the law. It must be so frustrating for those parents who want to take back some control, yet they are hampered.
It takes a huge amount of consistent, flexible parenting to be able to lay down some ‘non-negotiable’ ground-rules that both parties adhere to. When it comes to D&A, well those rules can go out the window. Perhaps the ‘hard school of knocks’ is what it is going to take for some teenagers to get the message. It is better they ‘get it’ while they are still open to some sort of ‘persuasion’ than let their lives get so out of hand that every weekend becomes a test of wills between young people and the police.
One should look at less developed nations where there is a real fear of the police. It is difficult to find large groups of youths, ‘off their heads’ in some of these countries. Yes, the law is not loved or respected in those countries, and there is an element of corruption involved. We have a situation where we have to choose between, hard-hitting police actions and the complete bedlam we see on our streets. There’s got to be a better way.
It comes down to the ‘culture of drinking we have in NZ and other Western countries. It is normal for young people to challenge authority, but when that is mixed with D&A, then all bets are off. There is no ‘thinking and weighing up the possibilities’ when any of us are in an intoxicated or drug enhanced state.
We hear people saying that we need education in our schools. The fact is that we have that and there is little evidence to show that this works. I have seen some pretty ‘switched-on’ presentations from outside groups in secondary schools. It feels like they are getting through, but these same kids then go out in the weekends and get ‘loaded’ and anything they may have seen or heard, is way back in some hidden corner of their brains.
Are things just going to get even worse? Is what we are seeing now, a prelude to the behaviours we will see in the next few years? Has there ever been a time in history when the pendulum swings in the other direction?
For your own kids the best present oyu can give them is time. That is the one ‘gift’ that so many parents see as in the ‘too hard basket.’ You say you need that ‘time’ in order to pay for the ‘necessities’ you need to provide for your family. I know that just meeting basic needs, particularly in our bigger cities, takes a great deal of effort. It is these ‘necessities’ that has become problematic. Our belief that such and such is vital or we ‘need’ the next generation cell phone--- you get the picture.
Perhaps our desire to ‘live in a better suburb’ and then enjoy the so-called ‘higher decile school’ probably drains even more from us--- we need to work even longer hours and lout the window goes and real time with our kids--- right at the time when they need us most.
So it all comes down to the choices we make: about what and how much we drink, about what we think we ‘need’ and about how we spend our time.
There are some damned good examples of families out there who have made these choices and they aren’t all living in the top suburbs!