When the British Lions toured New Zealand in 2005, their Irish hooker Shane Byrne had a shocker when it came to the lineouts. He and Donncha O'Callaghan just couldn't connect and there's nowhere to hide when you are stuffing up your calls.

My poor Irishman grew more and more irate as the All Blacks continually bested the Lions in the lineouts and finally cried out: "Get Byrne off. Two Irishman stuffing things up — they're perpetuating a bloody stereotype."

I felt much the same when I saw a photo of a group of Christ's College students gazing mournfully out of the paper. The six of them had gone to the media to bemoan the college not providing them with free carparking. It wasn't fair, they said.

They'd done their years of bussing and they were entitled to drive to school. Not only were they entitled to drive, they felt they were entitled to park as close to the school as possible and without paying.


Not being able to do so was making them late for school and interfering with their education. They had tried parking in a vacant lot the college owns, the proposed site of a canteen, but one of them had his car clamped, as the signs warned would happen, and they were incensed.

They were making their grievance public and judging from the looks on their faces, were expecting public support and sympathy.

They didn't get it.

Most people thought they were, like the two Irish Lions, perpetuating the stereotype. Even their headmaster, for whom I had a great deal of sympathy, recognised this story would simply reinforce the belief that private school boys were self-entitled, self-obsessed jumped-up little snots. I hope the old boys' association keeps Simon Leese well stocked in good, single-malt whisky because he'd have needed a jolly stiff one after seeing his students, resplendent in their school uniforms, appearing in the media for all the wrong reasons.

He said most of the boys at Christ's were fuming as they felt it reinforced stereotypes of private school students — and he's right.

Through gritted teeth, he told an interviewer he supposed the good thing was the young men had the self-confidence to express themselves but he felt the subsequent mocking would be a lesson in consequences and thinking things through before acting.

Leese said there would be repercussions for the boys but it wouldn't involve suspension and the details would not be made public.

Young people make mistakes, he reportedly said, and it's not for people to publicly humiliate them.


They were safe, he said, in his "kindly hands".

Some felt the boys had a point. The lot was empty so why not use it? It would certainly free up parks for those coming to nearby Christchurch Hospital who struggled to find parking in surrounding streets.

But Leese said not making the site available for parking was far less of a headache than allowing students to park then rescinding that right once building began.

Besides, he said, plenty of other students drove to school and used initiative to get a parking space and retain it without incurring fines.

Furthermore, the school had never offered car parks for students and wouldn't start now.

This media storm comes just six months after another top Christchurch boys' school was copping flak for its puffed-up pupils — although in St Bede's case, it was more the parents at fault than the boys. Remember the parents who took St Bede's to court after their boys were suspended from the national rowing team? There was a huge to-do and ultimately the actions of the parents backfired.

And therein lies the problem. We can tut and mutter all we like about the arrogant, narcissistic selfie-generation — but the only reason they believe they can ride off into glittering futures on the backs of snow-white unicorns is because we've allowed them to believe they are truly gifted and deserve every blessing the world has to offer — simply because they exist.

Children aren't born with a grandiose sense of self-entitlement; they're created. And it's my generation of fellow parents who are to blame. We haven't done them any favours.

And it's not just children from elite schools who have a completely disproportionate idea of their relevance to the rest of the world — there are plenty of stories about children from state schools who decide to subvert the uniform code, or the rules about hair or homework, or whatever.

Young people are remarkably good at standing up for themselves. It's a shame they don't get as passionate about social issues, not just issues that impinge on their freedom to do what they want.

Of course, it's not all young people. There are many magnificent teenagers out there who know the value of hard work and understand they are a part of a community that doesn't exist just to serve their needs.

But every time a story like this makes the headlines we shouldn't point the finger at the young people. We should be looking at changing a society that believes the needs and wants of the self trump all the needs and wants of the collective group.

Kerre McIvor is on Newstalk ZB, Monday to Thursday, 8pm-midnight.