Not our fault

A teenager died in the weekend after attending the King’s College Winter Ball. Much has and will be said about this tragedy, but three things said by leaders from King’s caught my eye: We can’t babysit the students 24 hours a day. True. We don’t need an inquiry to see how the Balls are run. Mmmm. They weren’t drunk and there were no drugs. Right.

A letter to the editor in one of the Sunday newspapers caught my eye too. The writer, a mother from Masterton, said that she didn’t try to be friends with her children when they were growing up, that she saw her parenting role to role-model behaviours that she wanted to instil into her children.

Children need to grow by learning, sometimes by tripping up but hopefully watched and supported. Teenagers are not mini-adults. Their brains are simply not developed to deal with the complexities of life, especially when mixed with drink and drugs.

King’s is like Christchurch. Seems like pain on pain and I’m sure both communities ask themselves how much more they can take.

Mayor Bob Parker was communicating within minutes of the earthquakes today, expressing sympathy, connecting by mentioning that he hadn’t been able to contact his own family yet, offering hope and a steady hand for Christchurch. It might not be his fault, but as mayor of Christchurch, it really is his Fault. And he’s dealing with it. Leading.

I thought about the title of this blog being Defensive Leadership, but then it occured to me there is no such thing. Defensiveness is abstaining from leadership. Not owning, taking responsibility or showing the wider world that lessons are to be learned. King’s might not be a community for many of us, but as a community we all have an interest in how our teenagers are doing. Those vulnerable young people are our future and we should cherish and lead them. It might not be King’s fault. We don’t know yet. To own the issue and give us confidence publicly that they and all of us in turn will learn from the tragedy would be leadership.

As a community it’s not good enough to say it’s not our fault. By words or action.



One thought on “Not our fault

  1. Excellent point, Stephen. Taking responsibility seems a very hard concept for some in many domains of practice…and yet so much good and forward movement comes from that point on.


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