Time to stop bad behaviour on Golden Mile

SEAN PLUNKET
Last updated 11:46 26/08/2012

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Sean Plunket

Let kids make their way Royal roadshow back in town Meeting a transgender 8-year-old Supermarket shopping may become patriotic Shifting house mainly a relocation of clutter and memories To the culture minister, I say 'chur' and keep up the good work Internet party amateur and vain Grateful for no smart phones in days of youth Sticky subjects at the dinner table Avatar deal first step to prosperity

OPINION: So the police and other groups are "cracking down" on crime in the golden mile . . . good on them.

Anything that stops drunks fighting, urinating, defecating, stealing, vandalising and generally causing mayhem in the golden mile is a damn good thing.

The campaign launched in a blaze of publicity with a very tough-looking cop pictured on the front of this paper should do something to reduce street crime on the streets of the capital.

I particularly like it because the authorities have set a definable goal of how much they want to reduce crime by and when (13 per cent by 2015), that means all the agencies involved will be held accountable if they fail to reach that target and should be congratulated if they do.

But I do wonder if such a "crackdown" will ever be anything more than an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff when it comes to our binge-drinking culture (has a word ever been more abused?).

This week those who could have done something about building a fence at the top failed utterly to do so. The Government's wimpish approach to the very real problem of ready-to-drink alcohol and alcopops was a stunning example of political gutlessness and deafness.

To expect an industry which has created and successfully marketed flavoured industrial alcohol to this nation's youth to suddenly turn around and self- regulate in the interests of public safety is naive and stupid.

But the National Government isn't the only group that has left police, bouncers, council staff and ambulance officers to clean up the chaos of our over indulgence.

Cultures are created by societies made up of communities which contain families. For a culture to thrive or survive it must be passed on through parents to children.

So somewhere in the past we changed our culture, we started teaching and accepting different attitudes to alcohol and personal responsibility to those we did in the past.

I heard from several callers to my radio show this week about the way they were taught to drink. One was taken to meet the local publican by his father with the very clear implication that were he to misbehave his identity would be known, that with the freedom of being able to drink in a hotel came the responsibility of behaving like a grown up.

That ritual or rite of passage seems to me to be a very good thing, and alas not something I received as a youngster.

Sure, I remember my primary school principal at Plimmerton, Mr Chalmers, giving us a serious talk about how secondary school was SAD (Sex, Alcohol and Drugs) but it did little more than engender a sense of eager anticipation in me and most of my friends.

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What I didn't get was that as I grew up and hit milestones which allowed me to legally partake in certain behaviours I wasn't being given a free pass or permission to simply act as I chose.

I don't know who should have taught me that but I wish I had learnt the lesson a lot earlier in regards to alcohol without experiencing some of the seriously life-threatening situations I got into in my late teens and early twenties.

Still, I didn't live in a time when there were products specifically designed to encourage my stupidity and lack of self- control, advertising to reinforce the peer group pressure on me and a government which seemed indifferent to the risks those things posed.

The legion of drunk and disorderly who populate our inner city streets and our emergency departments are often too young to know what these boundaries and limits are and unlike the young me, are living in a culture which seems to actively discourage them from doing so.

Those who piss, pass out and cause pandemonium in our less than golden mile are not the root cause of the problem - they are just young and stupid.

I wish police and others well in cleaning up our streets but maybe it is time for our society, community, family and government to show some maturity, develop a new culture and put our house in order.

- The Dominion Post

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