Parents dropping their underage kids off to go drinking in the park…

Over the past few years, there has been a major issue with underage kids drinking in the Falls Park and City Cemetary. At weekends hundreds of children gather to drink, take drugs and do all the usual things that teenagers do. The problem is especially severe in the summer. Underage drinking is not exactly new, but the main issue is the massive vandalism that is going on. Thousands of pounds worth of damage is being caused to the children’s play park. Even worse in the City Cemetary graves are being desecrated much to the distress of families. A defibrillator was installed in the Falls Park last year, they had it burned to the ground in less than a week.

The main issue is traditional stone walls surround the park. They are quite easy to climb over, so it is challenging to secure the park and the adjoining cemetery.

Where are the parents in all this I hear you cry? Well, the Andersonstown News is reporting that parents are dropping their kids off at the park to go drinking. Yes, you read that right, parents are dropping their underage kids off to go drinking in a park. A park full of hundreds of teenagers off their heads on drink and drugs. The whole story gets even more surreal when a community worker reports that parents are bringing extra carry outs down to their kids as they have run out of drink!

Can you imagine the situation where someone is actively dropping their 14 or 15-year-old daughter off to go drinking in a park full of hundreds of underage boys high on alcohol, teenage hormones and drugs? It is amazing there have been no sexual assaults reported so far. Also for the boys, it is easy to imagine a fight breaking out and some kid getting stabbed or killed.

I don’t envy the police in these situations. Come down hard, and they will be accused of brutality. Do nothing and when the inevitable rape or murder happens the same parents will be asking where was the police.

In these situations, we often blame the kids, but this is one time where parents need to take a long hard look at themselves. Alcohol and drug abuse have been normalised for a section of our society. The parents get blind drunk every weekend, so they see no issue with their kids doing it as well.

These issues are not just confined to West Belfast. All other Northern Ireland we have issues with underage drinking and drug abuse. The Mark Patterson show covered a similar story in St Columbs Park in Derry/Londonderry.

Talk to any teacher or social worker and they will tell you tales of Dickensian dysfunctional families. One teacher friend told me of an eight-year-old pupil in her class who kept turning up to school tired. It turned out the mother was getting the boy up at 5 am to go to a shop to buy more ice so the mother and her friends could keep the party going. Who needs to worry about ID when you parent buys the drink for you? A friend who runs an under 14 soccer club tells me of kids coming into games hungover.

There is something bigger going on here. I know humans have been getting off their faces since the world began. In middle-class homes, they are all sitting in front of the tele with a bottle of wine or large measures of whiskey. For me, the issue is the vandalism. There is an anger and frustration in a lot of these kids. I don’t know if it’s some kind of hangover from the troubles, but we are producing a generation with major mental health problems. These troubled kids will grow up to have troubled lives, and troubled relationships, and then troubled kids of their own.

Not all the kids in the Park are bad. I know I drank underage as I am sure most of you reading this did.  That age when you are too young for pubs and discos can be a tricky one. I would have thought it would not be the most complex thing in the world to setup alternative activities for kids. Teenage discos etc. But talking to people who have tried this approach they say it is tough to get volunteers for such events. Also, there are massive liability issues. The same parent who throws their child out to go drinking would be the first one to sue you if anything happened to their little darling at an organised event. Like many difficult problems in society, we just turn a blind eye to it and hope for the best.

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  • whatif1984true

    Could it simply be that as their parents dont care about them (as set out in article) the kids are reacting to that. The other problem is why are the parents bad. There are 1000’s of underage kids and only a small percentage are behaving as set out. Therefore it is a small percentage of bad parents. Who makes up this group of parents ? Underage parents, alcohol/drug abuse parents, mental faculties poor in parents, grinding poverty in family?? I have no answers but the social workers could better describe possible answers. There are also the kids with good parenting who get lead astray which hopefully the parents react to sooner or later as they realise what is going on.

  • hgreen

    The major problem is that teenage kids have no where to hang out. In the past there used to be youth clubs around N.I. for kids between 14 and 17. Now teenagers are forced to get fake ID if they want to go to a disco or club.

  • Zeno

    That’s the major problem?

  • Zeno

    There are areas in Belfast where the law as we know it doesn’t really apply. If you live in North Belfast don’t take your dog for a walk in the Waterworks or it will get ripped to bits by one or more of the Pit Bull types roaming around off the leash and unmuzzled. You will be accosted by alcoholics and drug users looking for money. Anti social behavior is rife and is quietly accepted by the residents because of fear of attacks on their homes or themselves if they report it to the police. A lot of behavior that would not be tolerated in other areas is put up with and that leads to a slow steady escalation, eventually making some areas uninhabitable by normal people. The only answer is rigid law enforcement like Giuliani did in New York.
    Accepting that that is just the way it is is giving in to them and the more they get away with the braver they become.

  • Neil

    More youth clubs per sq mile in west Belfast than anywhere else on Earth I’d wager. Brian is right, abysmal parenting setting kids up for a lifetime of failure and misery.

  • Brian O’Neill

    The big question is why is parenting so bad? At what point did it become ok to buy your teenage kids alcohol?

  • Brian O’Neill

    To me a major factor in mental health is the built environment. I pity the poor sods who have to live in crappy estates strewn with dog mess, litter and graffiti. Ugly damp houses and no green spaces.

    A whole generation of planners and architects should be jailed for their crimes against humanity.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Teenagers are more sophisticated these days. They can’t be fobbed off with a pool table in an grim church hall.

    There is a demand out there for entertainment for this age group. You would think some smart business person would come up with something.

  • Zeno

    The Waterworks on the Antrim Road is a beautiful place and the houses close to it are good quality. You can’t blame the planners or anyone else for this one.

  • Neil

    I assume it’s generational. So it all goes back a long way. And these days people do what they want and take any suggestion they should consider the consequences or indeed other people who are impacted by their behaviour as an affront.

  • The worm!

    Great, the old liberal “it’s someone else’s fault” card being played already.

    And people wonder why there’s a problem!

  • The worm!

    They did, it’s called “Kelly’s”!

  • Brian O’Neill

    Also quite happy to accept that some people are just hallions.

    The dog mess issue really grinds my gears. Between it and litter.

  • Glenn

    Also don’t drive up or down the Oldpark at the park or on the Cliftonville at night. After Albert St and the Whiterock it is joy riding central. None of my girls will drive in west Belfast any time of the day or night.

  • Oggins

    We are the combination of our peers, parents and environment. The lack of parenting is due to their lack of parenting, and lack of giving a hoot. I was walking by the Royal hospital entrance the other day, massive signs asking people not to smoke outside the doors… Dozens of people smoking anyway.

    What we don’t do is actually challenge this behaviour? Where was the security?

    There is a lack of civic pride and care. I onced asked my neighbour to clean up her dogs mess. She took the dog down the stairs to the small green patch outside the main entrance and allowed him to do his business. She proceeded to walk away with the dog,when I politely reminded her it’s a main entrance and kids play her. The look I got, wasn’t one of embarrassment, it was one of who are you

  • Oggins

    Same camp as you sir. It’s rotten

  • whatif1984true

    “What we don’t do is actually challenge this behaviour?” When the police was rung about the illegal closure of the Donegall Rd for a street party they replied “its only one day”.

    So many other instances of rule flouting – cars with broken lights, flags for paramilitary organisations, bonfires. So much nowadays has a blind eye turned to it that the petty behaviour of kids is very understandable, they know they can get away with it.

  • Old Mortality

    I am puzzled that in what is allegedly the most ‘deprived’ area of NI, money appears to be so readily available for the purchase of alcohol for children as well as adults. Is being unable to afford legal as well as illegal intoxicants a measure of ‘deprivation’ on a par with not being able to ask a friend home for tea?

  • Old Mortality

    Another factor that people don’t take into account is the effect of climate om mental health. Even West Belfast won’t seem so grim and depressing when the sun is shining.

  • Dan2

    Strange really, I thought everyone in West Belfast was consumed with a desire to learn their native language…how to they find the time to get drunk and destroy parks and graves

  • notimetoshine

    The thing is alcohol is not expensive, especially the kinds that these young people are inevitably drinking and it is quite strong. So for a relatively small amount they can get off their faces. For under 3 pounds you can buy three litres of strong cider.

    It was only a few years ago that I would enjoy the odd drink of a weekend from the age of fifteen or so and it was certainly inexpensive to do so. (Though I live in a small seaside town with lots of out of the way places where we could drink without making a nuisance of ourselves. I don’t understand these kids drinking in relatively open public places).

  • notimetoshine

    Most kids don’t need their parents to buy alcohol, there are a million ways to do it. I myself drank while underage, and always managed to do so without any help from my teetotal parents. As did my friends. This pearl clutching hysteria over a few parents actively involved in their kids drinking is ridiculous.

    Teenagers drink when they shouldn’t. It is a fact and not one you are going to solve. The problem is these kids don’t realise the best strategy is to find some out of the way place they won’t make a nuisance of themselves. Living in a small sea side town there were always places we could cloister ourselves. Maybe it is harder in a city, but those kids need to get some sense.

  • Tochais Siorai

    True, but parents buying it adds a whole new dimension. I never came across that as a young fella and I knew a fair few dysfunctional families. Of course like most of us, I found ways of getting hold of drink underage but I knew if I turned up at home the worse for wear there’d be absolute hell to pay. That put the brakes on the drinking.

  • notimetoshine

    God my parents would have gone nuts if I came home drunk. I frequently did, but teenagers are sneaky and I think I was only caught once or twice. By the time I was 16/17 I had presented them with a fait acommpli and they didn’t like it but got over it.

    I think issues should be what these kids are getting up to when they drink rather than the fact they are drinking.

    Interesting fact, English public schools often let their students drink under controlled conditions under the age of 18. Not exactly a transferrable scenario but maybe something to consider.

  • hgreen

    Rubbish. I live in south Belfast. Other than Rosario (who’s funding is at risk) I’m not aware of many others. Usual lazy analysis to simply blame parents.

  • hgreen

    Indeed. There has to be a huge business opportunity for someone.

  • hgreen

    Well who are you blaming?

  • Zeno

    Parts of Belfast are just what the English call Sink Estates. I used to live in one of them. I remember the days when if it was heavy snow the men in the street would have come out with shovels and cleared it all. Then it gradually changed so that anyone with the slightest bit of wit left them to it. They are just ghettos now,

  • Zeno

    Litter and dog mess are just Broken Window Theory. It has to be stopped before it escalates.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory

    If I see one crisp bag on the street outside my house I go out and pick it up. If I don’t I will end up living in a street covered in litter because everyone will think it’s ok to drop litter.

  • The worm!

    Who’s responsibility are they?

  • Zeno

    If ordinary people are afraid to stand up to them the Police have to enforce the law. I know people who have become so accustomed to it they think it’s normal and anyone who complains is weird.

  • Neil

    Rubbish. I live in west Belfast and have done for the past 15 years. I have two children under the age of ten, I know where the youth clubs are locally and there are 3 within walking distance of the school (one on Glenveagh Drive, Tollymore and one in Derryveigh). Sorry to break it to you but we’re talking about west Belfast. And the sh1t parenting I see, I see when I look out my window or when I drop my kids off at school (hurry up and finish your red bull on the way into school in the morning is a personal favourite). You haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    My mate’s neighbour has trained his dog to pick up litter, now that’s civic duty!

  • hgreen

    Well as you said you have two kids under 10 however we are talking about teenagers so I think you haven’t a clue.

    And what events are these clubs putting on for teenagers in the evenings that teenagers would actually want to go to?

    You sound like the typical bloke in the pub with simple answers to complex questions.

  • Gary Thompson

    Indeed, the sprawling mess they erected is abreeding spot for anti social education

  • Neil

    From

    The major problem is that teenage kids have no where to hang out. In the past there used to be youth clubs around N.I.

    to

    And what events are these clubs putting on for teenagers in the evenings that teenagers would actually want to go to?

    So you were incorrect, in west Belfast there are dozens of youth clubs. Now the problem is what entertainment they lay on as opposed to their non existence when you were proved wrong on that.

    You sound like the typical bloke in the pub with simple answers to complex questions.

    You sound like the typical guy on the internet. It is a simple answer: if parents know where their kids are, and don’t buy their kids alcohol and transport them to an outdoor party of the type where they are at risk of physical and sexual violence then your parenting leaves a lot to be desired. If you back that up, as many of my neighbours have done over the years by denying their criminal behaviour even when it’s witnessed by others, you are setting your kids up for a life on benefits or in jail. Anyway, enough. You can think what you like, you don’t seem to have a whole lot of insight anyway.

  • hgreen

    Dunno. Do you? It’s oh so easy to control teenage kids. How come everyone can’t do it? If you are unable to control your teenage kids you will be pilloried on the internet.

  • hgreen

    You quoted my text but didn’t answer the question? Are you new at this?

    There may be dozens of youth clubs in west Belfast but what are they putting on for teenagers? What I know is in S.Belfast there’s nothing for teenagers to do in the evening and evidence of funding cuts for what little facilities there are.

    Anecdotes about some parents dropping kids off at a park is not evidence for the reasons for antisocial behaviour. Teenagers have been causing trouble for decades. It’s what teenagers do.

    As I’ve said elsewhere it’s not easy to control teenagers so don’t be so smug.

  • The worm!

    “Dunno”

    Really???????

    Have you children of your own?

  • hgreen

    Yes. Teenagers.

    Good luck to a single mother trying to control a teenage son or daughter in a deprived area.

  • The worm!

    So if you don’t know who’s responsibility they are, apart from yourself and their mother, who might the other possible candidates be?

  • hgreen

    Cliched nonsense about responsibility. As I’ve stated and which you have chosen to ignore is that it’s not easy to control teenage kids. It’s hilarious that you think antisocial behaviour is a new phenomenon that could be addressed if parents were only more responsible.

    Your comments about single parents are simply hokum and don’t deserve a considered reply.

  • The worm!

    You didn’t answer my question, are you new here?

  • The worm!

    Still waiting on an answer, but in case you’re not entirely sure of the question I’ll repeat it.

    You said that you don’t know who is responsible for your own children.

    Apart from yourself and their mother (assuming you’re male), who else might possibly be responsible for them?

    It’s a pretty straightforward question!

  • hgreen

    You can join the army in the UK at 16. Are you saying that parents are still responsible for kids who are in the army? You idiotically think that parents are solely responsible for teenagers who are in many cases bigger and stronger than they are. Raising teenagers requires give and take and not an authoritarian approach.

    Like many right wingers you view the world in simple binary ways and not how it actually is.

  • The worm!

    So this time you avoid the question by trying to deflect on to something else. Reference is made in the article to 14, 15, and “underage” so whether the age of responsibility is 16, 17, or 18 is irrelevant in this case as we are plainly discussing youngsters under the age of self-responsibility.

    So I repeat yet again, if you don’t know who is responsible for your own children (as you stated), who would it be other than yourself and their mother?

    Apart from that, are you actually capable of discussing anything with anyone you disagree with without resorting to being ignorant, insulting, and derisory towards them and their views. This and other posts of yours tends to suggest not!

  • hgreen

    And are you able to discuss issues in non binary terms? You appear to see the world in black and white, good and bad. You make knee jerk accusations about parents based on little evidence. You waffle about parental responsibility as though it’s a magic cure for antisocial behaviour that has been going on for decades.

  • The worm!

    I wasn’t “waffling” about anything.

    I have been repeatedly asking a question in response to a statement of YOURS and you seem unwilling or unable to answer it.

    So now on top of the initial question which I would still like answered, could you please quote my “knee jerk accusations about parents” as I’m not aware of having done any such thing.

  • hgreen

    You aggressively reacted to my initial post with a lazy cliche about liberals. Then all you were able to contribute to the discussion is some waffle about parental responsibility that we’ve all heard before and which is only part of the problem. You exhibit all the usual traits of the right winger. Always quick to point the finger at others yet completely devoid of sensible solutions or analysis.

  • Tochais Siorai

    I actually think on the whole younger people are drinking slightly less these days. However they do drink differently, shots are more common and caffeine fuelled energy drinks play a hugely negative role. The lad who fell asleep in the corner after too many pints a generation ago is now able to keep going after an rb or two and this can lead to all kinds of problems.

  • The worm!

    Stop acting the snowflake and answer the questions (assuming you’re actually capable of doing so!).

    Then we can take it from there.

  • hgreen

    Snowflake? You sound like you’ve a bit of memory loss. You accused me of being insulting a few posts ago.

    It seems my answers were a bit too nuanced for you so I’ll be a bit clearer. Unlike for a young child parents are not 100% responsible for teenage children. As soon to be fully independent adults, teenagers themselves have to assume some responsibly for their actions and behaviour. I understand that you may struggle to cope with this level of complexity when it comes to human relationships but I’d encourage you to persevere.

  • The worm!

    My dear man, I am so sorry.

    I had no idea that I was willfully forcing such an intellect as yourself to correspond with someone so far beneath you on the social scale that it was causing you distress and frustration.

    Please accept my humblest apologies and be assured that I will naturally desist forthwith!

  • hgreen

    No need to apologise. You are a right winger. I’m familiar with your limitations.

  • The worm!

    I know, I keep forgetting that the concept of being responsible for your own children is actually an outrageous and extremist view.

    I hope my own appreciate the fact that I never had this conversation with someone as “enlightened” as yourself twenty years ago!