Becoming an Adult in Australia

  • Somewhere in Brazil, young lads would put their hand in a glove made of bullet ants and get stung repeatedly for 10 minutes.
  • In Ethiopia, men are asked to jump over a herd of cows.
  • The Kaningara Tribe of Papua New Guinea have patterns cut into their skin scarring them for life.
  • And some women in Sumatra have their teeth chiselled!

Here, we have schoolies.

Yes, that is how I now look at schoolies, as some kind of Australian rite of passage.

I’ve written about this before, a couple of years ago in a post called It’s Schoolies Week in Australia. If you haven’t yet read that post and you don’t know what schoolies is, then perhaps you should have a quick read before coming back here.

All done? Good. Then I shall continue.

Now, I want you to imagine Schoolies Week taking place in the country where you live. Imagine 17-year-old and 18-year-old kids converging on one spot from something like 200 to 300, or maybe more, schools.

Imagine them now all staying in that one spot for a period of one week, possibly the first week they’ve ever spent away from home and their parents. Imagine them all getting hold of lots of alcohol and perhaps even some illegal drugs.

Now imagine them all going out, again to the same places, and partying hard and late into the night.

Would there be trouble?

I’m trying to imagine this happening in my old country, the United Kingdom. And I’m thinking, yes, there would be trouble.

Is there trouble here? Well, yes!

Here’s the news:

Most of the trouble though, is caused by toolies. Toolies are older people who have already left school who turn up and try to join in on the fun.

The most troublesome of all schoolies celebrations on the Gold Coast was 2009. One source says 217 were arrested that year, another says it was 267. This year, as at day five, arrests stand at 86 so far.

Let me put that into perspective. There are apparently around 35,000 teenagers celebrating Schoolies Week at the Gold Coast right now. 35,000!!!

That’s a lot of kids from a lot of school’s drinking a lot of drink.

Only 86 arrests?

I think that’s a miracle. And I’m still imagining what sort of trouble there would be if this kind of thing did take place back in the UK.

A lot, I imagine.

I’m not sure what I really think of this ritual. The big test for me will come in 10 years time when my daughter says “Daddy, can I go to Schoolies Week?”

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • BobinOz November 28, 2011, 8:36 pm | Link

    Judging by your responses, I’m not the only one that thinks that schoolies would be a disaster in the UK.

    But here, it does work. The kids have the time of their lives and for the most part, they are all well-behaved. And yes, it is supported by many adults who help to see it all runs smoothly.

    Now, imagine 35,000 kids from different schools all descending on Norwich city, or Woking, Guildford or Kingston, or any town. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

  • Johanna November 26, 2011, 4:56 am | Link

    Hear, Hear!

    Totally agree with you, well said Rupert and Nicky…educate them from young, let them party, with adult support on hand (police, community support, etc) for when things get outta hand. Free pancakes…almost worth getting drunk for ;o)

    Be realistic, not idealistic !

    Johanna

  • Nicky November 25, 2011, 6:10 pm | Link

    The success seems not just to be about the kids though. Extra police, show stages and free pancakes… those are the things you would NEVER see in England – adults supporting young people having a good time. In the UK it’s such an ‘us and them’ attitude no wonder kids don’t seem to learn how to behave themselves when they go out.

  • Rupert November 25, 2011, 12:13 pm | Link

    Or Kingston-upon-Thames, Guildford, Woking etc – much worse than Surfer’s or Coolie. At least in Oz the kids aren’t hiding behind hoodies and smashing things up.

    It seems the only ‘problem’ (according to Channel 10 News at any rate) is drinking alcohol. This problem of teenage binge-drinking simply doesn’t happen in France or Italy where the consumption of alcohol has been established since childhood as a social event for all the family.

    If we raise our children with a street-smart sense of responsible drinking, they’ll be ok. I bet the kids who are getting really trashed are the ones whose parents have never credited them with some intelligence as far as drugs and alcohol are concerned.

    The Australian government’s ‘war on alcohol’ certainly doesn’t help. Young people are going to drink and take recreational drugs, so let them have a good time – and if they get sick, they’ll learn something, it’s part of growing up.

    There will always be a few idiots, but let’s not blindly accept the authorities and the media blowing things out of proportion and taking inappropriate draconian action just because tax-payers don’t want to pay for the clean-up in the morning.

  • Johanna November 24, 2011, 4:18 am | Link

    If that’s the most intensity it reaches, that’s incredibly tolerable! I agree Bob, just one average night out in Norwich city would make an Auzzie parents’ toes curl – and it’s like that almost every night of the week too, most of year round.

    Get me outta here!

    Johanna x

  • Liv November 23, 2011, 11:45 pm | Link

    You’ll be older and even more worried about it by then Bob. I wouldn’t think about it yet if I were you! ;o)

    • BobinOz November 28, 2011, 8:04 pm | Link

      Yes, I agree. I’ll just take each worry as it comes. That one can wait a while.

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