'The true culprit behind rich boys’ vile list'
Everyone wants to blame the Shore School for the morally bereft Muck Up Day list of drug and alcohol-fuelled activities, which included a range of illegal tasks such as assaulting strangers, breaking private property and sleeping with overweight women and underage girls for points.
When it was revealed earlier this week that year 12 students at the North Sydney school had devised a scavenger hunt dubbed the "Triwizard Shorenament", the $33,000 a year school was widely condemned.
On Thursday when the full extent of the list was revealed to include "sh*t on public toilet seat", "get with a belowie" (a younger student), and "sack whack a complete random walking past", the damnation grew.
Surprise, surprise, people cried, money only breeds ego. Rich people are horrible and this is the very problem with our educational system.
But if you've come here hoping for some elite private school bashing, you'll be disappointed.
I attended an elite single sex school for my entire education, and my son went to such a school for seven years. Both were only possible thanks to my incredibly hardworking immigrant parents.
My Fijian-born father got himself a scholarship to university by doing his homework by the light of the church's porch. He and mum then decided to invest in what they believed was the best education they could afford.
It's something I've managed to do as a sole income, sole custody parent, thanks to that education. It's also come with many personal sacrifices, and my son knows that (yes, mostly because I tell him, often).
That's the difference between my family and the Shore students who wrote the Muck Up Day list. We are so very grateful for what we've been given.
Sadly, these particular Shore boys have been misguided - not necessarily by the school but surely also at home. For me, I can't help but think the parents need to step up and take some of the blame.
Sure, the boys are old enough to be held accountable. But when their moral compasses are so disoriented, we must wonder how they were raised.
It seems to me that the parents may have mistakenly relied on a school which they paid a heck of a lot of money for to be a substitute parent.
They have raised children capable of conceiving criminal activities with the design to execute them for joy. Whether it was by negligence, or role modelling, is not of importance. The only take away here is that they've created cruel-minded kids who want to "spit on a homeless man" or "catch a pigeon and proceed to rip it's head off" for a lark.
Look, I know, as the parent of a teenage boy, the road is not easy. Teens have friends they want to fit in with, and are also making independent choices. As parents, sometimes the best we can do is cross our fingers and hope we've raised them well enough to not act from ego or arrogance.
Maybe that's easier said than done? Perhaps the parents of these Shore School boys are ultra conservative, believe in a social class system, because they were raised in one. Maybe they were raised by narcissists, and so didn't know how to not raise one themselves?
There isn't an excuse. This is 2020, and our society has progressed to expect much better from the next generations.
It's our duty to teach our kids that the gift of being privileged in any way should only ever be met by a recognition of the advantage, gratitude for it, and giving back.
That's something my dad, who spent a third of his life starving in poverty, taught me. If I'd been involved with anything like the Muck Up Day list, he would have heartbrokenly wondered how he'd gone so very, very wrong.
Which is exactly what the parents of the Shore boys should be wondering about themselves right now.
Nama Winston is a freelance writer
Originally published as True culprit behind rich boys' vile list