Please be a blessing to New Zealand’s kids

Father and child

I was hugely disturbed by two things in the last week. One was the mental health and suicide statistics for New Zealand. The other was the watching of the movie Spotlight which details the investigation into child abuse and the systemic cover-up by the Catholic church in Boston (as well as details around the world ? including New Zealand).

It is unbelievably hard to write but I was frequently abused by a relative (as were some of my cousins) during my childhood and it is clear that the adults, who must have suspected, did nothing, and even when told directly went to ground. There are always two types of wrong ? the first is a direct act of harm. The second is with-holding good.

In 1983 the brilliant (as in ?late ? great?) 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.

In general, the press would not have you consider it but 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 than ever before. 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 Information Technology entrepreneurs. Children get neglected by family members who work too many hours, drink too much and simply don?t know how to make time. At present 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 the current adults to stand up and restore the ideals of childhood for our wonderful children. This involves massive self-sacrifice, giving time, and setting boundaries building fences at the top of cliffs through genuine love and knowledgeable care.

Our young people have massive roadblocks in their path ? 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 on our planet.

The Villa Education Trust is very proud to partner with great kiwi Mike King ( to talk about mental well-being in New Zealand. He cannot do this on his own and I was delighted to hear him talk about his perspective that more had happened in one year under the new government in this area than in the previous nine years.

It is time for the adults of New Zealand to stand up. Firstly ? to stop doing harm to our young people in any way shape or form. 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. 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 deeply when they need to talk.

At the start of this piece, I lamented two pieces of media that have 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.”

Be an adult that surrounds the young people near you in belief. Don?t do harm and by no means withhold good.


by Alwyn Poole