Monday, November 25, 2013

Challenges Teenagers Face

We all know that freedom has a price. It is rarely free. 

Take the recent “Roast Busters” case in NZ. Young men of eighteen slept with under-aged girls - as young as thirteen and fourteen - in 2011 and then boasted about it on facebook, naming and shaming the girls. What came as a shock was the role the NZ police played in the whole sordid affair. Apparently, the girls were so inebriated they didn’t know what was happening. The difference between the rapes that hit the headlines in India recently and the Roast Buster rapes is that the youngsters were known to one another. 

This post lets you know the facts of the case but isn’t about being judgemental. It is about the challenges teenagers and their parents face today. 

Teenagers, whether in NZ or India, are getting a taste of freedom as never before and it is important for them to know the responsibilities and consequences that go with it. I am aware that in India the majority are content to go for healthy, light hearted fun, are busy trying to excel at studies or are under strict parental authority. Yet, the videos about boys from ordinary homes misbehaving with girls on Delhi roads were pretty alarming. 

What can parents do about their young with raging hormones who indulge their own desires uncaring of the feelings of their victims? Mike Cagney, who has worked with scores of abusers, says abusers go ahead because

– it felt good at the moment 
– was gratifying 
– they couldn’t stop 
– they felt they could get away with it.

He says almost 80% regret it afterwards. [I wonder - Do they realise how disgusting and unpleasant the experience was for the victims and that isn’t a nice feeling?] Before they become repeat offenders (who regret it afterwards) he talks to them. Here’s the entire radio interview. Perhaps we, as parents could pick up some pointers on how to prevent our own teens from becoming abusers instead of feeling helpless in the face of their unchecked raging hormones. 

What about our normal teens out to have a good time with friends? The ones who are definitely growing up and need to be out amongst their peers more often than with parents, and yet, need to have set boundaries? 

Teenagers are at an age when their bodies are changing and evolving. Parents watch their little babies growing up. But while they mature physically, mentally they still have a lot of growing up to do. Some parents marry them off! But most parents, brave souls, take on the terrible teens. 

We understand it isn’t easy growing up and that in spite of their temper tantrums, their harsh criticism and manipulative behaviour they need to feel safe and loved. We know they face hormonal changes and grappling with new emotions is confusing and exhausting.

Like everyone, they want desperately to love and be loved. But hateful parents and the boundaries they set enter the picture. We know, as they grapple with their own changing emotions, what (or who) they think they desire could easily change. We know that they could get saddled at that young age with the added responsibility of pregnancy and babies themselves. There’s a strong possibility that the object of their attraction is also growing and evolving. They might change their minds too. 

We hope they’ll listen when we give them advice about enjoying ordinary friendships with both sexes, with a stress on ‘ordinary’. We know that learning to live in the moment will help as will tons of shared laughter, strong family ties and an absorbing activity - a hobby, an aim, goal or purpose. 

To add to our woes we not only have to tell them it is best to keep a lid on their own emotions and those of their beloved but that they have to watch out for the nefarious intentions of a handful of others. Today, since parents don’t chaperone teens as heavily as they used to, there are a few things we need to let them know for their own safety. We have the lovely task of letting them know it is smart to recognise monsters, some of whom might be their own friends – wolves in sheep’s clothing. We need to let them know how to give them a wide berth. [They may use flattery, force or emotional blackmail (I’ll kill myself if you don’t) to make the victim give in. They might take the teen away from the crowd. What did the Roast Busters use? Alcohol to let the young thirteen year olds believe they were cool and sophisticated with the sole intention of lowering their physical ability to defend themselves.] 

How do we let our teens know it isn’t the beautiful world they thought it was without increasing their confusion and anger? Is it any wonder they throw temper tantrums at us? Let us face it - whilst we know arming our kids with knowledge and wisdom about the times we live in is necessary we don’t really know how to deliver. 

How do we tell them without upsetting them that their admired “friend” could use flattery, spike their orange juice with a drug or ply them with alcohol to lower their resistance? Not everyone is like the Roast Busters. How do we explain our fears and our need to keep them safe from danger without putting them off? Or worse, without sounding like the high hand of authority out to thwart their fun? How do we talk to our kids without sounding like we know best? 

Today, thanks to technology kids have too many role models they can look up to and too many ways to corroborate the information parents dish out. The job was certainly easier for parents until kids became tech savvy. They (the parents) were the ultimate authority. If I were honest I’d have to admit that whenever I’ve tried telling my kids one of those “horror” stories with a strong message I’ve often felt them roll their eyes heavenwards. Their expression has said it all. 
  • Oh no, a lecture! 
  • We know, mum. Heard it a hundred times before.
  • Google it, parent, and you’ll get 270,000 different opinions on the subject in .23 seconds.
On another plane I’ve been aware that they’ve taken the message on board. One of my pet grouses is that there is much wisdom out there but no training for parents. To be effective at any job we accept that training is involved. The exception is parenting. Our challenge as parents is to convey our messages better. Our challenge is to find the right balance between giving them freedom and laying down the law. Our challenge is to resist trying to seek their approval if they don’t abide by the rules that make them safe. Our challenge is to understand and resist their manipulative tactics (a topic in itself). Our challenge is to remain stoic in the face of their disappointment and therefore their wounding insults. And, in spite of all the above, our challenge is to stay connected and to keep the channels of communication open. Easy-peasy.

Image Courtesy -

To find out more about the Roast Busters' case - the case that shook New Zealand, the police role in the saga and the actions taken by the deeply concerned NZ public, media and top politicians click here.

This post is also a Guest Post at A-Musing and declared top post on Indiblogger.


  1. Ritual sexual abuse is not confined to the Satanic seat of power, it has filtered down through society, from the top to the bottom, to a local level. People regarded as upstanding members of the community, often in influential positions, are involved in paedophilia and their respectable public face is far removed from their sordid private lives. They are operating in our schools, churches, hospitals and even the council.

    In the 1990's, senior staff members in Lambeth council were producing pornographic material of a "sadistic, bestial and paedophile" nature in the basement of the housing department, where they knew they would not be interrupted. A female member of staff disclosed how she was subjected to a rape on council premises "of horrendous proportions" which she was still suffering serious injuries from one month later. She described being raped alongside children and animals by senior figures in the council.

    The findings of a report which included rape, assault and posession of indecent images of children, was never formally investigated by the police at the time or made public. Bulic Forsythe, a housing manager who told a colleague he was about to 'spill the beans' was found three days later, bludgeoned to death in his burnt out flat. The BBC's crimewatch launched an appeal for information, like they didn't already have the answers.

    Bulic's daughter, who was born three months after his murder said, "It's really clear the fear that operated in the council - it seems from the report my father felt that fear," she added, he was scared that if he moved jobs "people in power could still get to him." He clashed with an individual who held a senior position and is named in the report as the head of this ring.
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    1. This post is about what parents could do about the difficulties of teaching wayward teenagers right from wrong. Still, your input is thoughtful (except the last bit advertising your product) and deserves a response. Sadly, Sapna, we read about these crimes in high places in the news all the time. Most of us vent our anger on social media and move on. People in high places hide behind the power their organisation affords. To me, the lesson is simple. Organised effort, whether good or bad, is the only way to meet our objectives. First, we have to overcome our fear (especially in third world countries) of uniting and speaking in one effective voice. Donating a small portion of our time to a cause bigger than us is time well spent.