Editor's Viewpoint: Teen's knives cache a warning to parents
Be honest. What would you do if you found your child was hiding a cache of deadly weapons and drugs paraphernalia? Would you simply dispose of it or hand it over to a responsible adult or inform the authorities?
Those were some of the questions a Belfast parent faced after they searched under the teenage child's bed. Their reaction was to hand the weapons - including a range of dangerous knives and a machete - to a community leader.
That was a commendable step to take as it took dangerous weapons out of circulation. Understandably, if not entirely ideally, the parent decided not to go to police in case the teenager ended up with a criminal record.
It is clear from our report that this parent is concerned about the young person. They had noticed a change in behaviour and decided to have a look in their child's room, even though it was normally out of bounds.
Worryingly, they also believe the young person is using drugs, although not dealing in them. Their belief is that he or she was used by others to hide the weapons and drug paraphernalia.
What this case demonstrates is how young people, no matter what their background or how concerned their parents may be, can be drawn into dangerous behaviour.
To many teenagers, illicit behaviour is often attractive and a mob mentality can quickly lead them into trouble. The recent anti-social behaviour by young people in north Belfast, which has left many residents fearing for their safety, is a grave warning of how events can escalate to a point where all sense of law and order breaks down among the mob.
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The question that every parent has to ask themselves is: do you know what your child is up to? In today's world, where peer pressure can be exerted through social media and where all manner of illegal materials can be obtained on the internet, it is easy for children to become involved in behaviour far removed for what their parents suspect.
Hopefully in this case the intervention of the parent will be sufficient to steer the young person away from the bad influences which led to the disturbing find.
This case should be a warning to other parents to examine their children's behaviour more closely and to discuss with them any concerns they may have. Parental intuition is often the best way of picking up on potential problems, and fears should never be ignored.