Father saves his dignity

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On Wednesday, a father restored some respect in his family and perhaps put his 14-year-old son’s life back on the right track.


After public support for the ‘Bali boy’ started to drop-off following the cloak and dagger approach to his return home, the boy’s father confronted a waiting media pack on Wednesday and finally answered some crucial questions.


Amongst them was whether or not the family would benefit from their son’s stupidity by signing a rich deal with a television network.


“This has been a harrowing and expensive lesson for us,” the father said.


“On that point we wish to be placed on record that despite continued media speculation regarding a deal struck, there has been no deal and there will be no deal with any media organisation.”


That is welcome news, though it doesn’t mean that one of the big networks didn’t try and score the story.


In fact, there’s immense speculation that ‘60 Minutes’ had all but done a deal with the boy and his family to tell their story.


The fact that it will no longer happen is a victory for commonsense.


The mainstream media so often think they can tell us what we should think, watch and do, but any six-figure deal to show us a 14-year-old kid who was stupid enough to buy drugs in a country where penalties are so severe, would clearly underestimate our intelligence as a community.


It would have bombed.


There seemed to be some concern this week that the way the boy’s return home had been handled by his family suggested that it was all a bit of fun and games.


Secret exits from the airport, hessian sheets around his home and – if you believe a caller to 2UE’s Paul Murray on Monday – five star treatment at the airport before he returned to Sydney.


You would think the President had returned and considered a Sydney visit after all.


Provided that the secrecy was not to protect a media deal, then one can understand it.


As much as the media may be craving this boy’s story, at the end of the day, it’s a 14-year-old kid who made a mistake.


A stupid mistake, without doubt, and one has no sympathy given the warnings that exist as you walk through Indonesian airports.


But the kid does deserve to follow university and employment aspirations in the future without this shrouding him.


I am one who believes that once you are 18, then name and shame all you like.


You should have woken up to yourself by then and understand the consequences of your actions.


At 14, your behaviour may well be an indication of what you’re going to be like as an adult.


But it also may not be.


I know of many people who were ratbag teenagers who now hold professional positions in different areas of life, and are some of the nicest people you’d ever meet.


For the 14-year-old in question here, it’s whether or not the experience in Bali is a wake-up call that will decide his future.


“Our son did the wrong thing – there is no denying that,” his father said on Wednesday.


“We want people to know he is genuinely sorry and remorseful for his decisions and actions in Bali.”


Words are cheap. Actions are louder.


The parents of this young boy, and the young boy himself, probably couldn’t care less about what I have to say.


But if you just read the story on page three about the grief that parents go through when they lose a child, you would understand how important it is to treat life with respect.


One hopes that the problems this boy confronted at 14 do not repeat themselves at 18, 19 or beyond.

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