WHILE I will not resile from one word I wrote last week, it did occur to me on reading it in print that it was all rather gloomy and that it might be time to look at our children - anyone under 18 years old - in a more hopeful light.

It is not unusual for newspapers, particularly provincial newspapers such as this one, to feature regularly the achievements of young people, be it in schoolwork, sport, cultural activities or the workplace where apprentices and young tradesmen from time to time shine.

In so doing they leaven the diet of stories we read day after day - such as the "Roast Busters" horror - about young people who are a blot on our community and who provide endless servings of crime stories and court reports.

These are the ones who murder, rape or violently assault often innocent citizens, the burglars and thieves, the graffiti artists, the boy racers, the drunk, drugged and disorderly, the indiscriminate fornicators, the mongrels who have no respect for either people or property, not even their own families and communities.


What happens is that we gradually get the impression that this generation of young people are beyond salvation; that our schools are failing them and that they will, in turn, breed another generation of idle and vicious thugs.

But the fact is that the opposite is true: 90 per cent of our teenagers today are ordinary, everyday young people, living generally happily at home, eschewing drugs, booze and sex, accepting discipline, working hard at school, and looking forward to fulfilling and rewarding careers.

Sometimes we read about them, when they excel in the classroom, or on the sports fields, or in the expressions of the culture peculiar to their ethnicity.

These youngsters are obviously among the pick of the academic crop. But there are literally hundreds of thousands of Kiwi teenagers - Pakeha, Maori, Pacific Islander, Indian and a multiplicity of other ethnicities - who are succeeding at their studies and at life in general and thrilling their parents and families with their achievements.

These are, in fact, the silent majority of today's youth, for few of them will ever make it into the newspapers or on to television, either as teens or as adults.

They will live lives of quiet achievement, greater or lesser but always competently, will take partners and have children and bring them up as they were brought up.

And therein lies the hope of our nation, for those children who are doing pretty much everything right in our schools, universities and workplaces today are in the main reflections of their parents before them.

Because they are so "ordinary", for want of a better word, we will never read about them - ordinary just isn't news.


They succeed in their education because they come from stable families who have nurtured them from birth, prayed over them, read to them, socialised them and involved them in family affairs, taught them virtues such as honesty, integrity, unselfishness and self-worth, encouraged them, cautioned and disciplined them and let them know in a hundred ways that they are loved and cherished.

Often alongside them at school and at work will be those who were born into fatherless or motherless poverty, drunkenness and violence, selfishness and carelessness, who have never felt wanted, let alone loved and cherished, who have been farmed out to relatives, babysat by a TV set and half starved.

I thank God that they are only a small minority and that our future is not in their hands but in the hands of the hundreds of thousands of other young folk who rarely put a foot wrong.