Richard Moore:Individuals responsible, not society

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I'd never heard of huffing before this weekend but I did know about chroming.

That's where exceptionally stupid people - usually young - spray paint, solvents and even flyspray into plastic bags and sniff the gases released getting a dangerous high. They can also sniff glue or petrol.

The fumes are highly toxic and five people die in this country each year through this activity. A similar number of victims are saved from death by paramedics or emergency treatment.

Just before midnight on Friday, a 12-year-old boy died in a Christchurch carpark after huffing butane gas. He was with what I will laughingly call friends, as what sort of friends are uncaring enough to allow someone they like to try something that can kill at the very first attempt.

And first-time users are most at risk as butane interferes with the heart's ability to receive stimulus from adrenalin, causing arrhythmia and death.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

Health authorities say retailers need to be more aware and not sell things such as gas, glue, petrol or other solvents to adolescents. Retailers have a moral responsibility, they say.

Well, excuse me, I don't believe society can lay the blame at a shopkeeper who said she had been told by the boy his mother wanted the gas can for cooking. Don't forget we are talking about Christchurch where, after the earthquakes, many people are using gas appliances for cooking.

The retailer has, however, vowed not to sell gas to youngsters in the future no matter what their stories.

Too many times, these problems are labelled as being society's problems and everyone casts about to find someone else to blame.

Is it our collective fault people drink and drive?

No, it is the individual driver.

Is it our fault children are abused or killed?

No, it is their caregivers and the killer's fault.

Is society responsible for kids who are out late at night sniffing toxic gases?

No, it is their parents' fault.

What was a kid of 12 doing out so late? I feel for the parents and their loss, but one does have to ask were they doing their job?

BACKING up my theory that crooks are criminally stupid comes this tale from Papamoa.

A man went into the Papamoa Te Warewhare looking for a five-finger discount.

He'd set his heart on one of the portable computer hard-drives that retail for about $150, no doubt to give him more space to pirate movies on to. Anyway he saw his chance and took his object of desire before quickly making his way out of the store.

Te Warewhare is festooned with security cameras and so it didn't take long for the local rozzers to ID him from the very clear images they were given.

A quick trip in the rozzermobile, a knock on the door and our IT-savvy thief was arrested. At the cop shop, things got worse for the light-fingered beggar as the police couldn't stop laughing about his escapade. It seems instead of getting the $150 unit, dumbo had nicked himself the dummy display model worth $5. Teehee.

WHILE New Zealand has few dangerous critters counted among its wildlife, there is a new feral creature that is endangering folk walking in public gardens.

It is university students playing the game Possum. To play Possum you don't just lie about not moving, instead you climb a tree, armed with a box of beers and slowly drink them until you are so sloshed you fall out of the tree.

This has caused concerns for staff at Dunedin's Botanic Garden because a number of people climbed a single, heritage tree and they leave behind food scraps, broken bottles and vomit.

They are also worried about someone hurting themselves in their possum plunge.

While I think it sounds a bit of silly fun, if the botanists are that concerned they could always sprinkle a bit of 1080 around or do a bit of spotlight shooting at night.

richard@richardmoore.com

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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