In Sydney last night, the police picked up 13 teenagers who were drunk or affected by drugs. The stories in today’s press have an air of ‘parents not caring about their kids’ about them.
Nine boys and four girls were picked up, aged around 14 or 15.
Phoned by police, one boy’s carer said he thought the boy was in bed asleep.
I do not find this a shocking response from a parent. You’re tired, you pop your head in to your kid’s room at 10.00pm to say goodnight, and head to bed. You certainly do not expect a call at 1.00am from the police, saying they have your drunk child detained in the city.
Other parents were “shocked” to learn their kids weren’t where they said they’d be. And if this was the first time your kid has done anything like this, you would be shocked. If they’ve done it a few times before, or you know your kid likes to party… not such a surprise. That’s when, as parents, you need to be double checking plans.
What the public will probably get most riled up about is that when police phoned the parents, not one of them came in to collect their child. There could be many reasons for this. Maybe they are too tired to drive safely; they may be a single parent with other children at home; they may have had a few drinks themselves because it’s Saturday night and they shouldn’t be driving; perhaps they don’t have a car or money for a taxi. They may also know the police will deliver their kids home regardless. But if the parent is sober and has access to a car, then of course they should be driving the hell to the city to pick up their child and show them that they care.
There is a lot of parent bashing going on these days. But kids are wiley (I know I was). And they want what they want, and they want to have a good time. Even the strictest of parents, or the most loving, get the wool pulled over their eyes. I imagine that there are some heavy conversations going on in these households this morning, and a bunch of parents wondering what they can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. They might not know where to begin. Parents are criticised for not knowing where their kids are overnight, but how can you know if they are not in bed at home or at a friend’s house?
NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher had some good advice for parents. He said we need to ask our children more questions about what they are up to and make more inquiries.
No one likes to be a nosy, interfering person, but maybe it’s helpful to be a nosy, interfering parent. At least then if the police call you at 1.00 in the morning, you can say you’d really tried.