Thursday, August 6, 2009

Teach The Children

Yesterday I suggested that there is a whole range of issues thrown up by the alleged terrorist plot to attack Holsworthy Army Barracks. Among them have been the hotly discussed issues of base security and the use of unarmed civilian security guards, or access controllers as they have been designated in the double speak of the Australian Defence Force. Another issue is the security leak from within the joint police and security agency operation which resulted in newspaper headlines about the dawn arrests before they actually occurred, potentially putting lives at risk by alerting the accused. Thankfully, that was not the result, but the lapse itself remains a point of significant concern.

There is another issue which is connected with all of these events, and which has wider implications for us all. In the wake of the arrests, a man called Ibrahim Khayre has spoken about his nephew Yacqub who is one of the accused. Ibrahim is the closest thing that Yacqub has to a father, and he has explained to the Daily Telegraph that young Yacqub was brought to Australia from Somalia as a toddler along with other family members to rescue them form the violence and disaster which was occurring in that country. As a boy he was apparently well behaved, until his grandfather died when he became disturbed, and something of a rebel.

This is where Ibrahim says the authorities have let him, and all of us, down. He claims that when he tried to intervene in the affairs of the teenage Yacqub he was stopped by the welfare authorities and the police who protected his right to move out from home and have nothing to do with his family. He claims that Yacqub was given welfare payments and accommodation, allowing him to live independently. Ibrahim has said, “They don’t let us parents look after our kids. They told us, ‘Leave him alone. He is free.’”

This highlights a difficulty in our society where parents can find themselves damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If a parent tries to intervene in the life of a wayward teenager who has decided that they don’t like living at home anymore, they can very easily be treated as the bad guy. If they give up and stop trying to put their kids back on the straight and narrow, they are still treated as the bad guy. How many times have we seen examples of teenagers leaving home because they don’t like to be “told what to do”, only to fall in with a bad crowd, get involved in drugs, teenage pregnancy, crime, or all of the above? The state helps them to do it by giving them the right to thumb their noses at their parents, providing them with welfare money and accommodation, and then when it all goes wrong the authorities point the finger and ask “where are the parents?”

Now, it appears home grown terrorism can be added to the list of possible miscreant behaviors which might be pursued by disaffected youth who have been told by the Authorities that they do not have to listen to their parents. Of course, not all parents are good, and we have seen plenty of evidence of that, and there does need to be a safety net for those children. But the vast majority of parents are doing the best they can for their kids, including trying to keep them out of trouble, even though the government keeps on trying to get in the way.

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