Belfast Telegraph

Lack of parental responsibility not only fails children, it fails wider society when our young people cross line into crime

Editor's Viewpoint

In recent days there have been reports of young people, some of them of primary school age, running amok in Lurgan and Newtownabbey.

In Lurgan some 150 young people threw missiles at police, and in Newtownabbey disturbances were a nightly occurrence, with children as young as 10 seen drinking and smoking among the crowds causing trouble.

In both instances appeals were made to the parents of the young people to keep a closer eye on where they were going at night, who they were associating with and what they were doing.

It does not take the detective skills of Sherlock Holmes to know if your child is drinking or taking drugs, which are seen as the two main factors in causing criminal offences.

The third one - as perceived by the public in a survey - is lack of discipline from parents. There seems plenty of evidence to back that up. Teachers, for example, say that lack of parental support causes problems for them in the classroom. They come under attack from pupils, even at primary school level, yet parents often refuse to take action against their unruly children.

It is in the nature of young people to explore the boundaries of behaviour, and without proper example from parents, or concern at parental retribution if they overstep the mark, they can easily find themselves in trouble. Making mistakes is part and parcel of growing up, which is why parental guidance is so vital. Peer pressure can be persuasive in doing the wrong thing, but it can seem the most fun at the time.

It seems incredible that so many parents appear to let their children, even at a young age, stay out late at night without any real appreciation of where they are or what they are doing. Indeed, if someone else intervenes to chastise their errant children they, instead of the children, feel the parental wrath.

Failure of proper parenting not only fails the child, with potentially serious consequences that can blight their adult lives, but also causes problems for the wider society. Parenting means being responsible.

Belfast Telegraph

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