Car theft, violent crime, drug use and more. Recent events in our local region have many people screaming out for answers. Demanding to know how is it that children and young people are being so let down that they are turning to these risk taking behaviours.
In response to these events many individuals are experiencing anger, grief, anxiety and witnessing blame being placed in a range of directions. It's not hard to see examples of this emotional intensity, a simple scroll through comments on a social media post relating to any of these topics will highlight them all.
"Where are the parents?" "Another slap on the wrist," "Bring back the cane," "Well done child safety," "...Ask the police what is their plan of attack."
While many of the people behind these comments may be simply looking to be heard in their frustration and seeking opportunities to vent the intensity of these emotions, it is essential that we find a way to hold onto these emotions for a little bit longer. Avoiding the temptation to project and reject these uncomfortable feelings within ourselves. These feelings are doing exactly as they are designed, this discomfort brings these concerns to the focus in our minds reflecting the collective sense that something needs to change and gifts us the motivation to make these changes.
What is it that actually needs to change? Is there just one single person or individual part of the system that is to blame?
"If a child is not embraced by a village then they will burn it down to feel its warmth." - African Proverb
The solution we are called upon to find for this problem is in my opinion far to complex for any one person or any one system to take sole responsibility for this change. Luckily it is also so simple that we each can play a part. In order to be successful we all will play a role in an unlearning. We are all being called upon to start working towards returning our children and ourselves to a community in which belonging and safety are paramount.
For many of us we are now existing in communities profiting off us selling ourselves as commodities, selling our non-refundable time, desperately fighting for resources marketed to us with expert precision. Trading off precious time with our children to work to afford the required uniforms they wear to school. Communities built on separation, separate houses with separate rooms, infants being left alone to 'cry it out' and political parties positioned to place people at odds with each other. We have moved so far away from the communal, reciprocal lifestyles that provided the basis for early human success. No longer can we draw on each others strengths to support us a whole, the tantruming child and their best intentioned parent in a shopping centre is now met with judgemental looks from strangers rather than the arms of many safe trusted adults from whom they can seek support. Our community is sick and with most illnesses it reaches fever point before it is able to resolve itself.
If we want our children and young people to turn in rather than acting out then they need to know they have a safe group of people to turn in to. This starts with us each placing connection, attachment and pleasure back as our highest priority. While this will ultimately require review of social services, community planning reconsideration and changes to economic priorities we can each start making changes today.
If you want to be part of creating an environment that provides the warmth without the need for our young people to highlight the illness by creating their own fever points then here are some starting points:
- Check how many people within your neighbourhood you actually know? What are their strengths or what may they need that you could offer? Don't know start to find out.
- Prioritise creating time for you and your family to have fun and connect. You can make more money but you can't make more time.
- Role model kindness, give the positive feedback, buy the flowers, smile at others, take care of our environment.
- Maintain open respectful dialog with those whom you disagree.
- Join a local community group.
- Listen to children and young people, they can offer new insights into these concerns and potential solutions.
- Find the helpers and see how you can support their efforts in areas you care deeply about?