Friday, February 29, 2008

The Parents Who Won't Parent

I enjoy a drink. In fact, I enjoy several.
I have done so since I was... well, since I was a lot younger than I am now.
I have had some mighty fun with drink on board.
There was a time, it would have been unthinkable to go to a rugby international without a having a few pints first.
And as for club games, well, there was the joy of having a pint and watching the action out the window.
Drink has always featured at weekends. It features at christenings, funerals, weddings, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, divorces, house moves, new jobs, old jobs, new cars. Anything.
If you didn't already know, you know now that I am Irish.
And that's the way of it.

I'm not going to say there's no harm in it. There is of course harm in it. There is harm to the wallet and the liver. And very often to the job and to the family life.
But what this is about, is the fact that it has all gotten so much worse in recent years.
Of course, alcohol always fuelled violence to some extend.
The Irish have a reputation, at least partially deserved, for drinking and fighting.
It's a reputation that stems from the behaviour of the Irish who moved to America in the middle of the 19th century.
But though they fought hard and fought tough and it was a time when the shillelagh was anything but a tourist trinket, I can't imagine that screwdrivers or hammers or sawn off shotguns or hand guns were the weapons of thte day.
Somehow, it seems to me that fists were the number one choice.
I remember once, fifteen or twenty years ago, seeing two people who should have known better, going for each other. In a pub, of course.
One of them, a big lump of Scot both kicked and spat at his opponent. It was at that point, the onlookers called a halt to proceedings.
Kicking and spitting were not considered fair or gentlemanly.
Now, people are knocked to the ground and then kicked. One is attacked by ten. Those armed with knives and guns attack the unarmed. The young attack the old. Men attack women.
And it's fuelled by drink, drugs and greed. It's fuelled by the lack of an upbringing. It's fuelled by too much money to buy too much cheap booze. It's fuelled by too many places to buy booze. It's fuelled by an apparent lack of serious sanction if you're caught. It's fuelled by a justice system that's perceived to be worse than useless.
It has become the case, that many, many people stay away from the centre of our towns and cities for fear they will become victims of random violence.
There are calls for some kind of prohibition, or at least, a prohibition on the sale of below cost booze, a ban on the sale of booze in petrol stations, some kind of curtailment of the sale of spirits in convenience stores.
Too late.
If kids can get their hands on Class A drugs, a tray of beer or a bottle of vodka isn't going to present a problem.
Punishing the supplies of booze may have some effect.
Punishing the violent - not rehabilitating them, punishing them, may have some effect.
But until parents start parenting, until the mothers and fathers of the problem teens take responsibility or have it forced on them, nothing will change.
And more will be attacked and killed.
Ireland, 2008.

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