Friday, July 2, 2010

Why is NZ such a dangerous country for adolescents?

Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the PM, has asked why NZ is so dangerous for adolescents. Apparently compared to other comparable countries more of our adolescents die than anywhere else. This may be death from suicide, risk taking, accident or other means.

It’s a tragic, but fascinating question. Why, in this country we call Godzone, a place where are all laid back and ‘sweet as’, do some many of our young people die for stupid reasons…compared to our kindred sister countries?

The basic information via media release from Professor Gluckman
By international standards, New Zealand teenagers have high rates of risk-taking behaviours such as smoking, drunkenness and unsafe sex.

The pressures of the teenage years can also have tragic outcomes - we have the highest rate of youth suicide among developed countries.

The Prime Minister has asked his Chief Science Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, to report on practicable actions that could improve the transition through adolescence for New Zealand's young people. The interim report from the working group, entitled Improving the transition: reducing social and psychological morbidity during adolescence, has been released today.

This interim report, produced at the mid-point of the project's reporting time-frame, identifies the issues and indicates where substantive conclusions have been reached, the direction of the working group's thinking, and the focus of ongoing work.

So here’s the thing, we talked about this this morning, and kind of started going around in circles and came to why do we have ‘troubles’ or ‘issues’ in general with many teens. The conversation included the original Gluckman thoughts then expanded.

Here’s a hypothesis to consider.

If you have a disrespectful, surly, rude teenager, a teenager who shows no respect for authority, a teen who drinks, swears, smokes, roots and is a burden on society, who’s fault is that?

Playstation? Music? Movies? TV? Societies? The teens? Peers?...

I would surmise that all these influences can play a part, but let’s be honest the parent or parents have a much greater influence on the teen through their years of life so far than any other the other external forces. Shouldn’t we point the finger at the biggest influence?

Can’t we at least ask the question, is poor parenting to blame for the slacker youth we have in NZ today?

I know it’s not as black and white as I am selling it…however at the moment all the other ‘external forces’ are getting the blame, along with the teens themselves. I don’t say this to absolve the teens of their responsibility, but to at least have a realistic conversation about the other influences that lead to the 13 year old dropping the brick off the overpass.

Think of it like this, if I owned a dog, and my dog bit you…I could end up in jail, or with a fine. If my 13 year old is out of the home and kills someone with a rock off an overpass…I can absolve myself of any responsibility.

Am I saying that owning a dog, and having a child is the same thing…No, but what I am getting at is there seems to something wrong with the above example, you need to take greater legal responsibility for a pet, than a child.

Click here for the full Gluckman report

1 comment:

  1. I think it's pretty simple really. NZ is so apparently dangerous for youth due to fatherlessness.

    look at the stats of solo mums and the rise in youth issues, it seems black and white to me