Most things we write come out of a moment of enthusiasm
This probably seems a bit odd coming from me seeing as I am just on the end of teenagehood myself, but I’m going to do by old(er) soul bit and have a rant about kids these days. No, it isn’t even about kids, it’s about the adults.
So, for those that don’t know, three girls have been suspended (facing possible expulsion) from Mitcham Girls High for posting a prank video that parodies the KONY 2012 viral video, though the theme is slightly different. Basically they are offering sexual services for cheap rates as a way of reducing violent sexual crime. Remember the word prank I used before. Anyway, the vid is obviously them being ridiculous and having a laugh. I’m sure you can find it on youtube if you really want to, and assuming it hasn’t been removed (highly likely).
Moving on; yes, it is a stupid thing for the girls to do and all the arguements about them not considering the consequences and it possibly affecting future careers are valid to a degree, as digital anything never goes away. Possible consequences though… they have been suspended, but I think that has more to do with the school being embarrassed because the girls were in their school uniforms and it doesn’t really reflect well on the school having it’s students turn to prostitution, regardless of its joking and noble intentions. I’d probably be embarrassed too if I was the school in charge of educating these girls. It clearly isn’t working as well as they’d hoped. What other consequences are there… future career prospects, ok, well I hope none of them wanted to be politicians or other important public figures, but apart from that, as a whole, I think they should be alright. They don’t have to disclose that sort of info in job interviews. If for some reason they get a criminal record because of it, they can probably rule out teaching or anything else that requires police checks. But I’m not sure what they could be arrested for, so again, a partially moot point.
Now, the part that irritates the fuck out of me is the response from adults, who in true form, expect teenagers to act like adults while treating them like children. They want teenagers to respect, be trusting and trustworthy when little respect is given and they are not trusted to be able to learn how look after themselves. A relationship between a teenager and their parents is stereotyped by the parents wanting to understand and control their teenager, while the teenager desperately wants to do their own thing, to explore life without having to answer to mum. Let your kid grow up damnit, and really the crux of what I want this blog post to be about is this:
Kids have been doing stupid shit for centuries, it’s just now we have more avenues and ways of doing it.
The more you try and stop them then less it will help. Your kids aren’t going to learn from your mistakes for the most part, they need to make their own. They are going to get hurt. They are going to be scarred. Some of their mistakes will have repercussions for a very long time. As a parent, it is your role to watch them make these mistakes and help them if they need/want it. Your kids are going to grow up, and you don’t do them any favours by trying to stop them. I know you want to protect them out of love, because they are your babies and a piece of your heart walking around outside of your body. But you have to remember that your children are people too, not simply extensions of yourself. I’m not a parent, but I am proud of my mum for all the love, trust and respect she showed me as I was growing up.
In regard to online safety, it is an important issue, but I think the SA Police’s advice (as posted in the Advertiser, 5/4/12, pg 6) to know what sites your child is visiting, tell them to avoid strangers, and use parental controls is a bit redundant and will not help achieve what you want it to. Rather, it again shows a lack of trust, confidence and respect for your teenage child and might cause them to try even harder to “rebel” and prove you wrong.
In regard to staying away from strangers, what a joke. We spend the first 13-15 years telling our kids not to talk to strangers and then change track and encourage them to try and make connections and networks, especially in regard to future careers. I understand that it is done out of an awareness of children’s vulnerability, but please don’t make them afraid. I can’t even count the number of times my mother has been complimented on how my seven and twelve year old sisters can hold a conversation, simply because they have the curiousity and confidence. They have been given the space to develop what I believe comes naturally to every single baby.
Going back to the point I made earlier about adults expecting teenagers to act like adults while treating them like children. I don’t deny that sometimes the antics teenagers get up to, like this video, make it difficult to not do that; but children start observing the attributes of respect, trust and honesty as soon as their little brains can grasp the concept of there being other people in the world apart from them. You showing them how to be nice, sensible, trusting and honest begins then and never stops. Can’t you see the irony in spanking your kid after he hits another child? I am not saying treat your toddlers like adults, they don’t need to know about the wars, bills and evil people in the world. But do treat them as people in their own right, with emotion and memory.
Confidence begets confidence, trust begets trust and respect begets respect. This is not a difficult concept and one we expect all our fellow adults to know. So why do we not show it to our adults-in-training?