Editorial: Elephants and Delinquents

Editorial: Elephants and Delinquents

Greg Latham


Editorial: Greg Latham, Anglican Youth Worker in Nelson, comments on the sometimes devastating consequences of a lack of good role modelling…

You may have caught a 60 Minutes doco recently investigating the serious violence attributed to a gang of delinquent teenagers. This gang had been blamed for an alarming number of violent atrocities in South Africa. But these are not your average bored teens out for revenge or senseless destruction. These attacks came from an unexpected quarter.

In one South African Wildlife reserve alone, 10 percent of the white rhinoceros population has been wiped out. Park rangers were stunned when they learned the killers were not hunters or poachers, but a group of juvenile delinquents. 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon discovered what happens when very large teenagers grow up without proper role models.

The marauding gang was in fact a herd of badly behaved teenage elephants. The story goes that the offending beasts had been brought up together without adult influence after losing their parents at a tender age. Without positive modelling from mature, wise parent figures, this band of merry mammals ran amuck.

In this issue of Crumbs we explore the great human need for a mentor figure. Someone to build a friendship with, to act as a guide, to fill the too common void of parent or grandparent figure. We hope the morsels in this issue of Crumbs will encourage and inspire you to incorporate the idea of mentoring into your work with children, young people, young adults and their families.