What’s the Matter with them?

Murder, riot, parents, teachers, youth. This was at the heart of a post on Quercuscommunity upon which I was tempted to comment. The actual prompt was, “Does anyone have any good ideas?”

Now that isn’t a good start because no one is going to ‘put pen to paper’ if he thinks he has a bad idea and if he does have an idea he runs the risk of people thinking he is a bit swollen headed.

But none of that will stop me. The post I linked you to concerns itself with young people behaving in an unruly, anti-social and, in the worst case, in a murderous way. Maybe you need to go back and read the post and come back here when you have finished.

Do I have any good ideas? Yes, I think so. There are some ideas that have been expressed many times but I will exclude them for now because I only want to deal in an area that I know quite well.

I believe that there are three people who hold the key to a child growing up to be a caring responsible member of a decent community; the child, the parent and the teacher. For many years I would have also included the Church, but I fear that that ship has already sailed. Personally I feel that that is a shame.

Every child must grow up feeling valued and being instructed in values. The parents have the major róle and if they fail to teach their child values that we all can agree are positive ones then the rot has started to set in. I don’t want to set out here what those positive values are. If we don’t all have a built in idea of what they are then the game is lost before we start.

If the parent falls down then some other person needs to fill the gap.

As I said, the Church used to be the holder of all that is true and upright, and some of the Church still is, but some have strayed off the path or abdicated. And this is where the teacher comes in. Except that the teacher is just as human, self-centred and prone to error as the rest of society. The only difference is that by becoming a teacher they have volunteered to be the parental-substitute.

Finally the child who has been let down by the parent and the school can, by dint of some unbelievable sense of what is right,  sometimes rise to the top with only themselves to thank. But these are exceptional people.

So, that is the introduction. Now I will talk a little about my own experience as a teacher. I will just talk about different students and different parents and different teachers and I will let you make of that what you will.

#1. A neighbour had a child who was causing trouble and the reason was simple. He was being bullied at school. It was not my school but I knew some of the staff at the child’s school. I rang the deputy-Principal at the school and was told categorically, “We do not have a bullying problem at our school.” I didn’t argue the point but as the conversation proceeded I was told that if there was any bullying then it taught the child to become resilient. Unfortunately that school had three students suicide in a period of three years. My neighbour took her child out of that school and found a better one.

#2. A delightful and well behaved student had both parents working. They were migrants and both had good professional qualifications. They needed to update these qualifications to get them recognised by Australian Professional Boards. To enable this to happen they decided to take over a small suburban milk-bar and to work as hard as they could until they had saved up enough money to buy a house. On the surface this seems a recipe for disaster. But it wasn’t. The boy in question would hurry home after school and take over from his mother who would then go to the school her two daughters attended and collect them. When the whole family was home the children would take turns so that the mother could be with the other two and then the same thing would happen with the father. It worked well, because the whole family worked together to achieve a goal.

…..series to be continued.




Youth clubs, youth sports and such things are, at best, distractions rather than a cure. If you are keeping kids off the street they can’t get into trouble. When looking at funding possibilities I’ve often seen the terms “distraction” or “displacement activity”.

Everybody has a choice – they are not forced to pick up a gun or knife before they leave the house.

15 thoughts on “What’s the Matter with them?

  1. Yo my man. There is indeed something comforting in agreeing, finding like-minded folk with whom to commune. But it’s true. I like your posts, and learn a lot from them.


  2. The most important people are Parents and then Grandparents. Good teachers of course. I agree with about the Church, such a shame, I used to go to Chapel every week and (looking back) it was an important part of my development.
    Perhaps Australia shouldn’t make it so difficult to settle and work there. In UK Aussies turn up and work at will, no questions asked!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Derrick. His post really lit a fire under me. I think there will be a couple more posts to come. My point is fairly clear. Good teachers are invaluable – bad ones are worse than nothing. Same goes for parents.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great point – teachers do make a big difference. We saw this when we were working with schools on the farm – one teacher can make a big difference to an entire school.

    I suppose that one who condones bullying also infects a whole school.


  4. As you know I’m an atheist, however I fulfilled my given word to the War Office by having our children raised in the Catholic faith, she the WO is a non practicing Catholic; I took them to mass every Sunday sent then through Catholic Schools never let on that I’m an atheist. They thought I was a Catholic, I explained that there was certain elements of the catholic doctrine as the C of E, which they accepted.
    I’m quite chuffed to report that all three of our children are now atheists, and the only Catholic, is my non practicing wife.
    I have 3 children all grown up now all well balanced and useful members of the society and I put it all down to the bullying tactics that the War office exercised on me!
    Not the schools or church the WO


    1. That’s all fair enough, although I wasn’t really intending to make this a platform for atheism. I did try to exclude “the Church” because I thought this would skew the points I wished to make. I am just as concerned by dogmatic fundamentalism as I am by dogmatic atheism. Both have similar barrows to push. Anyway, I will continue tomorrow.


      1. Actually I’m all for children being educated in a religious school. there they will get the discipline sadly lacking in the state school system. Sending 3 Billy Lids to catholic schools for their education right up to level/grade 12 cost a pretty penny but I consider it money well spent. I had no qualms about it whatsoever

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s true… teachers play such a huge role in a child’s success when parents and the general society cannot take much notice of them. I agree with everything you said except for one – keeping kids off the streets. Nowadays, it is easy to go wrong both in and outdoors with internet safety concerns. Safeguarding policies have increased hugely in a very short period of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes! Our son, and one of my nephews (living in another city) were bullied at school. In our son’s case, I went to the school, talked to his teacher and her supervisor, and got absolutely nowhere. My sister had a similar experience. In both cases, the schools refused to take responsibility for behavior they hadn’t witnessed and didn’t want to believe was happening. That was back in the 1970s. Today we seem to have come to our senses a bit, given the sharp rise of suicides among young people in the USA. Especially young people who’ve been publicly shamed (via social media) or bullied. I agree that the church as an institution hasn’t done its part with parents and children–with isolated exceptions.

    I love the second example you give. A snapshot of a ‘real’ family working together for the good of everyone. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy, but having a team approach can make all the difference in a family.


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