'Whatever it takes. Don't let your teenager go to schoolies.'




It’s hard to talk about the death of a 17 year old at Schoolies this week without using cliches such as “every parent’s worst nightmare” because it truly is.

I never went to schoolies, myself. Instead, I celebrated the end of my year 12 exams by going to Hamilton Island with my mother where we huddled around the TV watching the Berlin Wall come down on CNN. Rock and roll. But I had no desire to go anywhere and drink myself stupid. I just didn’t see the point.

Once you reach a certain age and begin identifying more with the worried parents than the wasted kids, you tend to tune out the annual schoolies media coverage – until this year.

Today’s Daily Telegraph.

With the shocking news about tragedy on the Gold Coast and the near-miss when 18 year old Cameron Cox was photographed sleeping on a balcony ledge 11 floors above the ground – it’s been impossible to ignore.

I’m still a few years off having to deal with my firstborn going to schoolies but I’m going to remember the advice adolescent expert Dr Michael Carr-Gregg has been giving to year 12 parents: bribe your kids not to go. Cash, a car loan, whatever it takes. As has been devastatingly proven this week, the combination of drunk kids and highrise buildings can be lethal.

The full circumstances around this young woman’s death aren’t yet known. But the fact is that someone’s beautiful daughter is dead after going to schoolies. Our thoughts and sympathies are with her family and friends after this senseless tragedy, that can never be undone.

And if there is a sense of anger and frustration amongst parents around what goes on at schoolies? It’s born of deep terror that, just like us at the same age, many teenagers have a frightening inability to foresee, judge and manage the consequences of their actions.