Parents need support and help, not harsh criticism

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Parents need support and help, not harsh criticism

Any questionable behaviour by children and adolescents is often laid at the door of their parents. Recent evidence of this is the article by Michael Carr-Gregg (Opinion, 18/3) in which he insults and vilifies parents (“catastrophic spinelessness” and “the republic of weak-willed parenting”) when trying to explain why boys behaved appallingly in public recently.

This does not acknowledge that parents are often aware of the need for their child’s behaviour to change when such displays occur. But, as children get older and become more independent, parents can feel a loss of control and are unprepared to deal with some of the challenges they face.

Often, they recognise they need to change how they interact with their children and set limits. Some parents have worked out how to do this successfully, but others require tools, encouragement and support to learn what they want to achieve. Criticism is counter-productive, increases their sense of guilt and decreases their confidence in parenting. Our messages about parenting should present an optimistic view that positive change can be achieved and help is at hand.
Jan Matthews, Surrey Hills

Home and school, working in partnership

Michael Carr-Gregg is right. While the education system definitely has an important role to play in teaching and supporting our young people to be respectful citizens in today’s world, it must not be expected to be their only teacher.

These conversations need to start at home at a very young age. The adults in our young people’s lives need to model strong, positive values and have hard conversations with them as their parent, not their friend. We need to upskill our parents on topics like sex education, cyber safety and respectful relationships. Home and school need to work in partnership.
Sue Cahill, Templestowe

All children can learn from their mistakes

The harassment and assault of girls at Wesley College is not the school’s sole responsibility. Parents have to accept that it is their responsibility to ensure that their sons understand respect and appropriate behaviour towards girls.

As a former principal and a parent, I understand that when the school calls you about your son’s behaviour, your first reaction may be to defend your child and believe their side of the story. All children can make mistakes and, fortunately, they can also learn from them. Schools can, and do, educate students about morals and values and appropriate behaviour, but they are limited in their impact if they do not have the active and on-going support of parents.
Peter Hendrickson, East Melbourne

Young men may pay the price later in life

Wesley College students who made “highly explicit and derogatory comments involving girls” (The Age, 18/3) should be warned that they run the risk of having their disgusting behaviour dragged up years later and used against them, possibly destroying a promising career. This may be the only way to persuade them to curb their misogynistic attitudes.
Peter Goad, Middle Park

Curbing the dangerous influence of alcohol

In the current conversation emphasising the obvious fact that perpetrators, not victims, are responsible for sexual assault, not much emphasis has been placed on the role of drinking in “disinhibiting” young men. Multiple studies have shown that alcohol is involved in a large percentage of sexual and domestic assaults. The cost of alcohol in violence and other tragedies in our community is noteworthy. Australia has led the world in decreasing our smoking rates. One small step to decrease our rates of assault may be to similarly decrease our alcohol consumption.
Michael Langford, Ivanhoe


Different rules for us…

I have just been issued a Centrelink debt notice for $7800. I am blind, on a disability support pension and was overpaid because of Centrelink’s systems failure. I do not dispute the debt but am disappointed Centrelink did not consider the varied communication needs of its clients when making a radical change to the way it communicates and does business. Had it done so, the overpayment need not have happened and I would have been spared significant distress.
I will pay the debt because I know it is not my money. It is yours, the taxpayers. What I do not understand, and perhaps the Prime Minister or Treasurer might help me with this, is why Harvey Norman and I seem to operate under different rules.
Andy Tester, Seaford

…and for big business

The government says it will not continue to support salaries post-JobKeeper. Then it announces a $1.2 billion aviation support package to international Qantas and Jetstar pilots, crew and other employees stood down from work until our international border reopens and they return to work (The Age, 19/3). About 7500 Qantas workers will receive $500 a week for the next seven months. My business is also dependent on international travel. Why is there a sweetheart deal for aviation and no support for other businesses like us and our staff?
Ashley Kausman, Hawthorn

Bring the city back to life

This trip back to Melbourne, our former home, was so disappointing. A city gutted and starved of people, especially seniors. There were few people on our train and tourist tram to Docklands, which was indeed a ghost town. Every shop and restaurant we walked past was closed and we were hard-pressed to buy a coffee. The scaremongering has succeeded and Melburnians need to come out, come in and get back together.
Fay Fisher, Randwick

Let’s give back control

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner June Oscar is right – the best way to ensure that we Close the Gap on Indigenous health inequality is to put control of essential service delivery into the hands of their communities (The Age, 18/3). Aboriginal communities have avoided even a single death from COVID-19. It is time we changed attitudes towards government-funded services and handed control to the people best suited to manage them – Aboriginal people themselves.
Tim Norton, Reservoir

Our right to open space

Who would not want schoolkids to have access to outdoor space? But isn’t there a bigger issue here? Over the last 30 years, state governments have sold off many state schools for residential development. At the time, many people protested about this, predicting future school shortages.
Both the Labor and Liberal parties receive substantial developer donations and some ministers, past and current, have close association with developers. Long-term public interest planning appeared compromised by short-term political and financial opportunity.

In 2005, then lord mayor Trevor Huggard noted: “If development on parkland continues at the rate it is now, by 2050 there’ll be no green open space left in Melbourne.” We are well on track in South Melbourne and Albert Park. The state government should purchase land for open space and for ovals for inner-city schools.
Ann Birrell, St Kilda West

Clarifying offensiveness

A Liberal adviser to federal Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar has been forced to quit after it was revealed he called the Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O’Connor a “methhead c—” in 2019 (The Age, 17/3), Parliament has been told. Would he have needed to resign if he had called male MPs “methhead p—ks”?
Henry Haszler, Eltham

PM’s action and inaction

Which 55 count most for Australia? The Prime Minister has not had time in more than one year to consider the 55recommendations of the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces yet plenty of time to make 55 calls to support Mathias Cormann’s job application to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. How long will it take him to consider and act on the recommendations of the sex discrimination commissioner’s next report?
Jennifer Wills, Portarlington

Treacherous politics

It seems Mathias Cormann helped Scott Morrison get the position of prime minister and then (using taxpayers’ money), Morrison helped Cormann become secretary-general of the OECD. Sadly, Australia got nothing that it wanted. Hopefully voters get what they want.
Anna Cook, Kew

Fewer people, what bliss

How wonderful to read that Australia’s population is reducing at last and that we in Victoria are leading the way – “Population decline hits Vic hardest” (The Age, 19/3). Now, at last, our over-stressed, endangered ecology can have a chance to recover.
Danny Neumann, Port Melbourne

Professional occupation

The punishment meted out to former principal Neil Lennie for his professional fraud, a wholly suspended three-month jail term and one-year community correction order (The Age, 19/3), is appalling. Imagine if this had been a doctor or a lawyer who had lied about their professional qualifications. Neither the courts nor the community would countenance an untrained, unqualified surgeon operating on patients. Teaching is a complex and challenging professional occupation. The courts and the public need to recognise it as such, and when people like Lennie flout these expectations, they should be severely punished. Otherwise teachers will never be accorded the status and esteem they deserve.
Mike Smith, Croydon (retired independent school principal)

A burning desire to teach

How can a teacher – with borrowed qualifications – remain active for 24 years (1976 to 2000) and gain employment at several schools, with no background checks? And how does this mean he does not know what teaching is all about? Teaching is not all about a qualification; it is about the desire to teach.
David Jeffery, East Geelong

Wait your turn, kiddies

Could members of the press be issued with lollipop numbers (as at house auctions) at parliamentary press conferences. That way we could avoid the unseemly shouting above each other and everyone would get their turn. Those not wanting to ask a question need not raise their lollipop. It would be a great example for children.
Liz Harvey, Mount Martha

Our precious bushland

Thank you, Miki Perkins, for your excellent coverage of the Ross Trust’s bizarre plan to expand a disused quarry adjacent to Arthurs Seat State Park (The Age, 19/3).

On the trust’s website, it says it has “a vision to create positive social and environmental change so Victorians can thrive”. In that case, why would it entertain the idea that its work can be funded by blasting precious bushland in the Mornington Peninsula? This is vital habitat for koalas and native species. The quarry would also leave a horrible scar on a beautiful landscape that so many visitors enjoy. There are better places for Victoria to source granite that will not necessitate the destruction of bushland. Let us hope the Ross Trust scraps its plan.
Matthew Davison, Shoreham

And our precious park

One upside of last year’s long lockdown and its restriction on movement, except for exercise, was the discovery of Yarra Park as a walker’s haven. (Yes, there were runners, but if one remained alert and nimble they could be avoided.) I concur with Angela Mercer (Letters, 18/3) about the park’s glorious revival and echo her dismay at the detrimental effect that the return of football to the MCG will have. Call me faithless, but there are beliefs beyond sport. Please park elsewhere.
Ken Williams, Richmond


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


The PM finds time to go to the footy but not to attend a rally supporting the safety of more than half the population. Enough said.
Brian Burgess, Middle Park

Join the dots. The nation’s leaders calling themselves “big swinging dicks”. Schoolboys behaving appallingly.
Glenda McNaught, East Melbourne

Wesley’s values system should start by challenging a seemingly embedded sense of entitlement.
Peter Baddeley, Portland

So much for the unproven theory that co-education is the way to prevent misogyny.
Judith Taylor, Clematis

Some parents “have gone to worship at the altar of ’happiness‴⁣⁣ (19/3). Michael Carr-Gregg nails it again.
Miriam Pohlenz, Highton

I thought April Fool’s Day had come early when I read about the ″⁣consent app″⁣. Sadly, it was a serious suggestion.
Ali McLeod, Cremorne

How about an ″⁣I don’t consent″⁣ app that triggers a siren, Mace spray, triple-0 call, and can also be used as a Taser?
Catherine Miller, Chewton


Scientists, please create a “good leadership embryo”. Australia is desperate for a leader who makes us feel proud.
Kerry Bergin, Abbotsford

Once Qantas makes a certain amount of money, it should repay the money it gets under the government’s aviation support package.
Rita Reid, Port Melbourne

The COVID app was useless, now the vaccine rollout is in chaos. What the bloody hell are you doing, PM?
Ludi Servadei, Malvern East

Having alienated half the electorate, ScoMo has widened his “not my responsibility” policy to the vaccine rollout, GP clinics and the elderly.
Colin Mockett, Geelong


Somewhere in the Bible it says, “the love of money is the root of all evil”. The root of all AFL rule changes is money.
Stephen Barker, Williamstown

Ian Powell (18/3), no one will ever take the place of the intrepid Hercule Poirot.
Anne Kruger, Rye

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