‘We need action on problem kids’
OH Big Brother, do we have a problem.Our kids are literally burning down the house and we don't know how to put out this fire of criminally bad behaviour.
Our kids are literally burning down the house and we don't know how to put out this fire of criminally bad behaviour.
News that the former reality show's famous pink mansion was up in flames spread like, well, wildfire over the weekend.
Fortunately the adjacent Dreamworld theme park was not threatened but the fire sent thick plumes of smoke across the area - just what the battling tourism "hot spot" (sorry) needs.
The Big Brother house itself is now destroyed. And while it was certainly in a dilapidated state, the irony is that it had just been revealed the site was at the centre of plans by US paintball enthusiast Tony Odinson to turn it into the centrepiece of a proposed 20-acre Adventure Park.
Many fear that plan is now up in smoke.
But the real tragedy of this crime is that the arsonists accused of torching this TV landmark - and rare piece of the Coast's cultural identity - are kids.
Six children were arrested after being seen running from the Coomera site on Saturday afternoon. Four children, aged between 11 and 15, were charged with arson, while two nine-year-olds were later released.
What the actual …?
Kids have always acted up. It's a rite of passage for teenagers to push the boundaries … but not burn them.
Show me an adult who didn't do something stupid as an adolescent and I'll show you someone who had no friends.
Relatively speaking, I was a good kid. I didn't drink underage, never touched drugs - but you bet I egged cars, toilet-papered houses and prank-called people from the phone book.
I'm not proud of that. If my kids commit any of those activities they are in BIG trouble (although the fact that we own neither phone book nor home phone makes me pretty confident I'll escape the latter).
But the kind of thinking - or more likely, upbringing - that leads these kids, all younger than I was when I committed my trifecta of terror, to set an actual house on fire is just alien to me.
I accept these kids are on the extreme end of the behavioural spectrum.
Also, and I'm sorry to bring this up again, but the northern end of the Gold Coast is a nexus for bad behaviour - the lower socio-economic status of suburbs like Coomera lead to a bevy of issues that negatively affect children. Plus, there's not a lot for kids to do. But, sweet baby Jesus, surely they can find something to relieve their boredom other than burning down a house?
Yet while committing arson may not be on every pre-teen's to-do list, there's no denying that there has been a shift in behaviour.
Witness the move by TransLink to conduct an etiquette blitz at Gold Coast schools to teach children how to behave on public transportation, thanks to a spike in assaults and fare evasion.
This generational behavioural change has been a slow burn, and clearly we're not doing enough to dampen the flames. In fact, youth detention centres are now so full that many youths are being held in adult police cells, which is a crisis in itself.
We don't know what to do with these kids gone bad, so we just lock them up. And that's exacerbating the problem - a fact recognised by Queensland Youth Minister Di Farmer, who recently introduced new laws that specify detention is a "last resort" for youths and that there is an "explicit presumption in favour of release" when considering bail.
"We know that by placing young offenders in detention, they are more likely to reoffend," she said.
It seems counterintuitive, but we don't need to lock these troubled kids away with other criminals. What they really need is access to what they have been denied at home - boundaries, discipline and care.
Unfortunately, that takes a lot more effort. We need youth groups, social workers, schools and churches to come forward and parent these rudderless kids.
No, it's not easy, but surely this burgeoning bad behaviour has to light a fire under our community.