Is the the last last post? Is it time to retire? When I’ve said that before, something has happened to revitalise the story, but this time maybe it’s truly over. The only thing left is the Aydin Coban trial, and I think that will result in an anticlimax.
It would have been nice to have finished with some profound observation, but this story has only shown up things people knew before – that the Press lies, that young people can be vile, and that most people are gullible.
So how to finish? Let’s try to be upbeat.
The two cases I have watched are extremely rare. All the lunatic fringe would like us to believe that young people are dropping like flies and that the world is full of pedophiles and perverts, but it’s simply not true. Every day, I closely watch news items worldwide and the incidents are just not there, so much so that I have become bored with it all. When the Press report on the so-called ‘epidemics’ and ‘crises’ it usually goes like this – ‘Amanda Todd, Megan Meier, Hubley and countless others’. What they mean is ‘a few cases from several years ago and we can’t find any more’.
The Press loves it. We were all meant to die from Aids, then Sars, then Ebola. Now all our children will die from cyberbullying. But I say again – it’s simply not true. Suicide rates have remained very much the same from years before the Internet was even thought about.
Young people are pretty resilient. Of course, there are some who are more vulnerable, but the vast majority have more sense than we think. It’s a shame that young girls like Malala Yousufzai get Nobel prizes, yet command less attention in the Press than some celebrity’s latest drinks binge. It’s a shame that failed parents like Carol Todd get all the limelight whilst parents who raise their children well never get a mention. Yet for every Amanda Todd there are a million kids who are truly worthy of respect, who don’t flash for the camera, who truly ‘stay strong’ against adversity.
Downsides? People who have kept up with this blog will know that time and time again I blame parents for most of the problems.
When I do research, I try to destroy my argument as much as I can – beliefs have to be challenged. I try to avoid those go-to phrases like ‘society is to blame’ but in nearly all the tragedies of delinquent children the inevitable conclusion is that parents have been key factors in their downfall. In what way?
One of the most common aspects has been family splits. I genuinely think that parents totally underestimate the impact of acrimonious divorces and marital problems on their children. Children want a stable, secure upbringing. It doesn’t necessarily mean having both parents present, but it means that they must have something upon which they can rely. If they encounter arguments, home disruption, one minute living with dad, the next with mum, basic relationship negativity, they absorb it like poison.
Recently in the UK there was a documentary about kids aged four. The cameras watched as a young girl had a pretend phone call: ‘Stop calling, Richard, I don’t love you any more’. Copying her mum. How sad.
Most of the vulnerable children featured in news come from what were once called ‘broken homes’.
Cyberbullying has become the reason of choice for parents. Forget about emotional neglect, poverty, ignorance – cyberbullying has become the convenient cover for all inadequacies.
The next parental mistake is that terrible ‘what can we do?’ attitude when the child starts going off the rails. Children need boundaries, not a shrug of the shoulders.
In both the Rehtaeh Parsons and the Amanda Todd cases, overt behavioural difficulties went unchallenged well before the final conclusions.
In the Rehtaeh Parsons incident, there was the deadly mix – drugs, alcohol and sex. Yet, in all the hullabaloo since then, no mention has been made that we should try to stop children from smoking weed and drinking. It appears that the necking of vodka shots and the rolling of blunts is a harmless teen activity and has no consequences. So with the Parsons case we had parental splits, drink, drugs, rampant sex – but of course, none of those were indicators of any problems, it was just the photo.
In the Amanda Todd case, it was even worse. Carol and Norm allowed their daughter to ‘self-medicate’ (a tidier way of saying ‘enjoy drink and drugs’). Carol even wrote that it was a battle she wasn’t going to get into. Amanda was allowed to do whatever she wanted. And so, yet again, we have the toxic mix – parental relationship problems, drink, drugs, rampant sex – but it was all to do with one photo.
Have there been any results? Nope.
Governments are now saying we need more sex education. What a joke! The Rehtaeh Parsons wasn’t about sex education – they all knew precisely what they were doing. And Amanda Todd was fully aware that what she was doing was not quite right but for her, as recounted by Norm, it was all ‘no big deal’. No amount of sex education will prevent these incidents.
Governments are saying we need laws to prevent cyberbullying and revenge porn. That won’t work. There are laws to prevent children from drinking alcohol and taking drugs, yet Amanda and Rehtaeh were allowed to do this at will.
What we do need is some sort of 21st century new moral code. Or do we?
I tend to have a dictatorial side to my nature. In my dream world, future brides and grooms would be forced to take relationship lessons and not allowed to breed if they didn’t get a certificate. Parents who allowed their children to break laws would be fined and made to attend parenting classes. All children would receive proper education about love, mutual respect, non-violence.
In reality, if one faces up to that, people are simply too human. Apart from a few Amazonian jungle communities, and at a push in Buddhist countries, the general population is simply too prone to human frailty. It’s no good looking to some dream past that never existed – the stories of Jimmy Savile and others show that there is no glorious ‘in my day it never happened’ scenario. Freud tried to tackle it before that. Rumour has it that he was so flabbergasted by what his patients were telling him about abuse that he daren’t say it out loud because Viennese society couldn’t take it, so he had to resort to historic references like Oedipus. His initial belief that all humans were geared for being sensible and nice also floundered when he found it impossible to come to terms with the savagery of the First World War. Today, he would be pulling his hair out over why people in the most affluent nations are eating themselves to death.
Is there anything we can do? I refuse to think that it’s hopeless.
I have a tattoo that says (in code) ‘Love is all’. To me, that’s enough. To know how to love, how to be loved, and how to spread love should be the goal of mankind. Such a simple aim! It will never happen. What the tattoo is lacking is a million word treatise on unselfishness, kindness, common sense and reason.
Meanwhile, perhaps, the subheader of this blog remains the most succinct part of what I have to say: ‘Problems can only be solved if we know the truth about the problems’.
So that’s it. No ‘Laters’ this time. There may be an update if the Aydin Coban news comes to something, but basically that’s the end. Not with a bang, but a whimper.
I wish you peace and love.