Reading the news last week, I noted the following headlines – ‘House of Misery – twelve children taken into care’. ‘We will live the second longest after the Japanese’. The week before I read, ‘we are now the fattest nation in the world’. A few weeks ago, ‘Alcopops are bad for our young people, let’s tax them beyond their reach’ and only last week, ‘the tax may now be dropped after it appears that the proposed legislation was only a money grab’. If you’re like me and confused and saddened by these headlines, what are our young people thinking? We espouse that criminality and anti-social behavior are unacceptable, yet we are making some of the greatest criminals of our time into ‘Underbelly’ celebrities. Who is feeding off whom in the case of Roberta Williams? We complain when ‘they’ put her face all over our TV screens but ‘they’ are saying that it is what the viewing public wants to see. Yes and they’re surveying a grownup audience. What message is that sending to our young people – bullying is not all that bad, after all, in it’s grownup form you get to dominate with real guns and threats of death and you may possibly get famous. The game is the same but the stakes are just higher than those in the schoolyard. It seems obvious to me that our children and youth are being sent mixed messages and are struggling with the gap between adult action and rhetoric, and when they adopt our models, they are only acting out of that ‘boundaryless’ confusion. We teach one way and act out another. What were they to make of the public scrap on air between Gatto and Hinch last week? We seem to forget that we are being watched, and get titillated by the hype of the irresponsibles and fail to call them to responsibility. What about the constant mixed messages that come from our media commentators about the ‘indiscretions’ of footballers? Some ‘footy elders’ say that it is disgraceful behavior and should be stamped out, and others openly admire ‘a bit of mongrel’ in the boys - after all ‘boys will be boys anyway’. How can we expect things to change or the growing problems of youth to go away when we adults model doing drugs, fighting, glorifying gangsters, admiring the mongrel in players and drinking like there is no tomorrow. There is inadequate room here to talk about the sexualizing of young girls and the steady stream of men from every level of society caught in the act of feeding their sexual appetites with images of children. So we say, in effect, don’t do what we do, do what we say – it has never worked and never will. Just last week a young caller rang 3AW on the topic of youth drinking to say that at the recent Nelson – Fenech fight it was the over forties that were ‘drunk’, not the young people. It would be sad if our young had to take responsibility to lead the way forward to a just and upright community. In fact I think that when we hear Gordon Ramsey’s kids getting down on him for swearing and school kids articulating the green message, the dangers of the sun, an awareness of the obesity problem, and the need to save our environment, it is already happening. I wonder when more real and healthy adult mentors will stand up?
Co-ordinator Focal Point & Valley Care Counsellor & Manager
Inter-Church Action 0409 517273.