Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's your fault, not the law's that your pupils are dying...

The chairman of Kings College in Auckland, the school where four of its pupils have died in circumstances involving the excess consumption of alcohol in the last 18 months, has blamed the lowering of New Zealand's legal drinking age to 18 years.

Leaving aside the obvious fallacy of blaming the drinking age of 18 for the pupils' deaths (given that they were all under the age of 18) it is the complete lack of responsibility that this statement implies that makes me angry. This man is meant to be responsible, as head of the Kings College board of governors, for setting the overall rules and culture of the school and I believe it is the Kings College culture that is directly implicated in these boys' deaths.

I know some of the families of boys at this school and I often appalled at their attitudes to raising their young boys. This is a social group where parents compete buy their sons the flashest car immediately upon the boys getting their driver licences, that compete to throw the biggest teenage parties at their beach houses at Pauanui or Whangaporaoa, that not only encourage alcohol consumption from a very early age (a lot earlier than 18) but boast about their sons' expensive tastes in booze. In other words, they load the gun, put it in their sons' hands and then are surprised when the boys pull the trigger.

The school's part in all this is that they allow it to happen. It would soon stop if the school immediately suspended any boy known to have consumed alcohol at any event involving pupils from the school. The parents should take most of the blame but the school would rather continue to take fees from these irresponsible parents and implicitly condone their behaviour than throw them and their boys out of the school. The school would only need to make examples of a few boys before the parents got the message.

This is not a problem of the law. To say so is to cop out. It's about time everyone associated with this school, from the chairman of the board down, started setting an example for their boys by taking responsibility for their actions.