53 Where are the parents?
THE chaos of wild youth scampering over police cars and attacking officers last Sunday would be bad enough if it was an isolated event. But it followed similar violence at a Werribee party in December, which required the riot police. And a Hawaiian-themed beach party in Point Lonsdale in January.
There, officers were pelted with bottles as they tried to control a party of 300 youths.
Speaking in today’s Sunday Herald Sun, Commander Stuart Bateson, of the Communities Division, speaks of huge parties where pack mentalities develop. In such circumstances, police officers are attacked, with rocks and sticks, and events quickly spiral out of control.
The party hosts, Mr Bateson points out, are left thinking: “Oh my God, what is happening?”
So, too, is everyone else. Though such scenes remain rare, they are becoming more common. And the reasons for the rise of such anti-social behaviour need to be understood.
This growing menace cannot become so routine that police find that they are playing the dangerous role of security every weekend for rampaging youths who — supposedly in the pursuit of a party — display such a disturbing lack of social responsibility.
The obvious question in these cases is this: where are the parents?
These kids are as young as 14. The notion that the parents are unaware or caught out simply doesn’t hold in this age of communication. Parents need to be more involved. They cannot claim to be too busy or preoccupied, not when their children are setting out to commit violence against police.
This lack of oversight warrants deeper analysis, given that it may explain some of the root causes for the poor behaviour and the display of such blatant disrespect for authority.
Police resources are far too valuable to be tangled in domestic disturbances triggered by children who — given their behavioural tendencies — could use some better role models.
Parents must be held accountable when police are attacked by children.
At the very least, parents have to know where their children are and what they are doing.
The use of social media in the gatecrashing of parties is a major issue. It allows the swift mobilising of large numbers. What may be a civil gathering can quickly get out of hand once malevolent elements decide to pile on a party.
Mr Bateson speaks of the need for good planning for parties.
It is common practice, for example, now for clear lines of communication to be established between the parents of the host and guests, so that the parameters of the event itself are clearly understood.
It makes sense that parties that are well organised and clearly managed are less likely to turn bad if outsiders try to interrupt them.
It also doubles as a community service — too much police time is wasted by attending to calls to turn down the music and the like. Victoria police officers are not glorified bouncers. They are trained professionals whose service is best reserved for unavoidable crises.
The lack of courtesy shown by wild gatecrashers dovetails into a wider lack of respect for the law. The open hostility shown to police in recent cases is very disturbing.
It’s one thing to avoid a police officer, quite another to join in a mob intent on inflicting harm on those who serve to uphold the law.
It seems to reflect a growing attitude that says that people can do what they like when they like and yet suffer few, if any, consequences. The implied notion of doing the right thing, of helping out or returning a favour, appears to have been lost in this blind pursuit of mischief.
In North Melbourne last weekend, a $460-a-night rental home advertised for adults only was said to filled by 40-50 youths at 2am.
They smashed walls, threw rubbish bins and stole electrical equipment. When police arrived, they abused officers and smashed police car windscreens.
Neighbours who witnessed the rampages feared for their safety. They described an abject lack of care for the police presence — instead, the youths yelled abuse at them. They ran away — otherwise, they showed little fear of consequences.
“It’s criminal,” Sen-Sgt Adam Tanner said. “It’s not something that we tolerate.”
These youths should face the full force of the law. Their parents should be grilled. And the community must find the answers for why these young people appear to have no care for their fellow Victorians.