Saturday, May 15, 2010

We can't pass the buck any longer

Many Kiwis used to pride themselves on the belief ('fact' in the eyes of many!) that NZ was 'a great place to bring up kids'. Indeed, for many OE was what they did before coming back to New Zealand to 'settle down', buy a house and have kids. Get the overseas travel out of our system, sow a few wild oats, then 'grow up' by facing the realities of adult life with mortgages, property ownership, and offspring.

And in many ways, it was such a place. High levels of home ownership, income distribution with a low ceiling and a high floor, excellent free health care and education for all; a temperate climate, providing food in quantities and with a freshness and at a price the envy of many parts of the world; a tolerant, open society (albeit one somewhat closed-minded at times); an abundance of open space, access to the outdoors both within urban areas, and in the widerness. And of course, there were the all-conquering All Blacks - the (peace-time) sporting manifestation of our war-time exploits and reputation for bravery, courage, and sacrifice for the greater good.

So what's happened? Where have the good times gone?

Because gone they are.

Consider these:

  • Gang member assaults child over red shirt - the child was 4 years old, playing in a park when a man approached the child, poked him in the chest and shouted at him to remove the shirt!
  • Auckland teen dies in his sleep after party - James Webster told his father he was going to a friend's house to study, but instead went to a birthday party with a bottle of vodka he may have taken from the house where he was staying. The party organisers would not let him in with the alcohol so he sat in his car and drank the vodka straight from the bottle, possibly with friends.
  • Teacher stabbed in Te Puke classroom - a Te Puke High School 53-year-old male teacher was stabbed in the neck and shoulder by a 13-year-old boy who has been taken into custody.

That's a sorry litany, especially when it is considered that these incidents all occurred in the last 2 weeks!

Do these stories suggest New Zealand is still a 'great place to bring up kids"? I don't think so.

Which then prompts the question: How have we become such poor parents? What has happened to our parenting skills? Because the kids, whether poorly or well behaved, are the product of their upbringing.

We've had shocking, horrific stories of child abuse and neglect before (remember the Kahui twins, Chris and Cru? Or even, further back, Minnie Deans?

And still these cases occur. It seems that New Zealand parents have created children who are no longer imbued with a belief that children are to be cherished and nurtured, protected and taught, looked after and developed, loved and cared for. So when these children become parents themselves, ...

I'm left wondering: What have we done? Or not done?

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