I was hugely disturbed by two things recently. One was the mental health and suicide statistics for New Zealand, the other was watching the movie
which details the investigation into child abuse and the systemic cover up by the Catholic church in Boston (as well around the world).
I was frequently abused by a relative (as were some cousins) during my childhood and it is clear the adults, who must have suspected, did nothing and even when told directly, went to ground. There are two types of wrong - the first is a direct act of harm. the second is withholding good.
In 1983 Neil Postman wrote a piece called the Disappearance of Childhood. He made a convincing case that childhood was an incredible social construct that came from the ability to separate adult knowledge from that which could be accessed by children - by and large through literacy levels and the caring and protective approach taken by the adults in the family and societal institutions such as schools.
This is the best time in the history of humanity to grow up. People across the planet are better fed, better educated, live longer and have more career opportunities. This perspective does not suit crisis-based media and politicians and adults who need some form of desperation to seek funding to perpetuate their organisations and causes.
Children have always been dumped on by insecure adults and those with causes who seek to lay blame. Children are also seen to be an easy market for gaming, social media and IT entrepreneurs. Children get neglected by family members who work too many hours, drink too much and simply don't know how to make time.
Young people in New Zealand are being exploited by a cohort of teachers and their unions, seeking to take advantage of a new government but not caring about the collateral damage they cause on the way.
In our beautiful and very rich country we are one generation away from many solutions and a great deal of progress. It is time for adults to restore the ideals of childhood for our wonderful children. This involves massive self-sacrifice, giving time, and setting boundaries through genuine love and knowledgeable care.
Our young people face massive road blocks - addiction to their phones and social media, decreased time from parents and significant others, schools/teachers who are not dealing well with social problems (despite massive funding), and a society that has forgotten that a search for faith and meaning is a huge and necessary part of growing up.
My organisation, the Villa Education Trust, is partnering with a great Kiwi, Mike King, to talk about mental wellbeing in New Zealand.
It is time for the adults of New Zealand to stand up. Firstly, to stop doing harm to our young people in any way. Allow them to be kids. Let them explore life, faith, and their place in the world. Set boundaries and have the strength to keep them from addictions and overuse of modern media.
Secondly, don't withhold any good. Spend time with young people, take them to parks, throw balls and frisbees, have meals at the table, catch fish, read to them, listen to them when they need to talk.
At the start of this piece I lamented two pieces of media that has knocked my equilibrium. To counter it there was a beautiful statement I read in the baseball bestseller, Moneyball, when a most unlikely athlete hit his first MLB home run: "Surrounded by people who keep telling him he's capable of almost anything, he's coming to believe it himself."
• Alwyn Poole's Villa Education Trust runs three schools in Auckland.