Help flows af­ter de­struc­tion

ED­I­TO­RIAL

Kalgoorlie Miner - - OPINION - Ger­man proverb. Daniel Newell

An old er­ror is al­ways more pop­u­lar than a new truth. AAP/AP/Reuters You don’t see the best un­til you’ve wit­nessed the worst.

And so it was this week when a wave of pub­lic out­rage di­rected at those re­spon­si­ble for sense­less acts of van­dal­ism at Kal­go­or­lie Ceme­tery turned into a tsunami of sup­port from the lo­cal com­mu­nity as those charged with its care and main­te­nance started to clean up the mess.

Walk­ing through the grounds and sur­vey­ing the dam­age left be­hind by a group of ju­ve­niles last Satur­day af­ter­noon was heart­break­ing and left many fam­i­lies in floods of tears — tears of sad­ness at such a des­e­cra­tion, tears of anger at how any­one in their right mind could do such a thing.

The in­fant me­mo­rial, due to open early next year, was a par­tic­u­lar tar­get for the wan­der­ing rab­ble. The grates over the fish pond were yanked off and thrown aside, the fish were found dead and pond stones were lifted and tossed across the grass.

Plants put in by vol­un­teers in June had been ripped out.

The dev­as­ta­tion stretched across some 200 sites, with glass domes, vases and head­stones dam­aged or de­stroyed.

Vol­un­teers from the Ro­tary Club of Kal­go­or­lie stepped for­ward and bought new plants and gold­fish and Bun­nings also do­nated plants, Planet Pet gave two tubs of fish food and staff from the ceme­tery said peo­ple had been drop­ping in or call­ing the of­fice to find out how they could help.

What alarmed most was the ages of this lit­tle troop of six trou­ble­mak­ers. The po­lice have re­ferred three to the ju­ve­nile jus­tice team and the rest are un­der the age of 10, so they can­not be held crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble for their ac­tions.

The ob­vi­ous ques­tions need to be asked. Where were the par­ents, and how have they failed so ex­traor­di­nar­ily to teach their chil­dren right from wrong.

Why were they un­su­per­vised and what on Earth could have prompted such wan­ton de­struc­tion?

Of course, the prob­lems be­hind th­ese ques­tions run much deeper than sim­ple lessons in moral­ity.

But surely we can all agree the re­spon­si­bil­ity should start and end with the par­ents.

Talk of pun­ish­ment ranged from forc­ing the chil­dren to help with the clean-up to mak­ing the par­ents foot the bill for the cost of re­pairs, none of which will hap­pen.

The best les­son would be to have the chil­dren stand at each site as the griev­ing fam­i­lies set right the dam­age they caused. But that won’t hap­pen either.

Some would say that’s too harsh a pun­ish­ment; they are too young to un­der­stand the full ram­i­fi­ca­tions of their ac­tions, and with the right guid­ance they will in time re­gret what they have done and be­come up­stand­ing mem­bers of the com­mu­nity.

Right now, that is of lit­tle com­fort to those left pick­ing up the pieces.

They want guar­an­tees those re­spon­si­ble will learn from their mis­takes, guar­an­tees the par­ents will see their chil­dren’s be­hav­iour as a wake-up call.

They — and we as a com­mu­nity — de­serve at least that much. Daniel Newell is the editor of the Kal­go­or­lie Miner.

Signed Al­ston prints are avail­able from www.west­pix.com.au. Phone (08) 9482 2378

Pic­ture: Louise White

Dam­age to a me­mo­rial in Kal­go­or­lie Ceme­tery.

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