Violence – The Biff Goes On.

1 Sep

In the Melbourne age today Dr Jerry Rosenfield, frustrated by the consequences of violence he sees in his patients ‘comments’ on street violence ”Is it a problem with education? A lack of respect … Are they divorced from spiritual connections, are they not getting adequate education about how to behave in school and from their parents?” (”Young men’s mindlessness starts at home: surgeon”, The Age, 31/8).

If we add it to the responses from those involved in the Mullimbinby incident we begin to get a picture of a generation who externalises and not internalises the reasons for bad things happening. A young man involved in the Mullimbimby incident says words to the effect, it’s no-ones fault it just happened. And the parents blame the school for not dealing with it.

Houston we have a problem and we need more than ground control to fix it.These are the things I talk about at Bloke’s breakfast and in the parenting seminars I run at St Jude’s Randwick. I have being doing this stuff for some 20+ years and the problem hasn’t changed, what has changed is how we parent (noticed on Sunshine Channel 7 this morning a section on how to negotiate your 2 year old to eat vegetables for example), parents want to be friends to their children (they need to be liked by their children), parents encourage the externalisation, discipline is an old fashioned word and parents, in seeking their kids to be friends, help them to grow up way before their heads are ready for it and much more.

Jerry Rosenfield is on the money and asks the questions we are afraid to answer, and while I agree with Dr Carr-Greg that how we deal with alcohol needs review we are only masking the problem if we stay at that level (the same with law enforcement and court responses). It is to be noted that the other recent violent situation in a NSW school did not involve alcohol.

Michael goes on to say that the ‘risk factors for violence also reside within the individual, their peers and the community’. I agree. Individual sin (old fashioned word for thinking I am the centre of the world) is grown in the fertile ground of community that focuses on individualisation, blame and instant gratification.

It is not what goes in that is the problem, although it may make the problem worse, but what resides with in us and is expressed that is the problem. Its seems to me after some 30 years of working with young men in particular, that the issue has to do with anger, frustration and lack of mentoring in how to handle a range of issues impacting on men, and young men in particular in ways that work for men. It has to do with how we parent, how we fail to allow young men to take risk in positive ways, how we offer or do not offer them opportunities to be valued and valuable in society, how we as parents try and make life safe and protect them from the consequences of their actions and much more.

A debate is needed as to what constitutes common sense parenting, what are the roles of experts and statistics, what is my responsibility in life,what is the role of parents – friends or those with the responsibility to train their children how to live in society with respect for themselves and for others. It is a debate we need but won’t get as those of us old enough to take part are part of the problem – we drive too fast, drink too much, give the finger to the car which cuts us off and more – all in the presence of our children, and then wonder why we get what we get.

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