In the spirit of Schoolies Week, I’ve been having a party in my mind and you’re invited. I was motivated by the new batch of 15,000-plus interstate Schoolies who recently swooped on the Gold Coast for an epic party.
High school’s out and for good!
So, with just 11 days to go and more batches of interstate Schoolies set to arrive, my mind has been partying hard to find a way to stem the binge-fest on illegal drugs and alcohol, plus the violence it fuels.
Hey: you may not like my big idea, but it’s a start. And, you know it’s going to be simple with a positive twist.
An innovative response
To create a solution, which includes my big idea, I applied a self-taught formula for dealing with specific change management problems: when you can’t change the behaviour, change the response. And, ideally, create a response that’s innovative and gobsmacking.
Sure, Queensland Police says Schoolies have been pretty well behaved compared with previous years. As I post, 106 Schoolie arrests have been made, which is the lowest in five years.
But, we’ve seen images of blokes risking their lives to hop between balconies on high rise units, king hits, and a Schoolie rushed to hospital after consuming 18 ecstasy tablets in one go.
Schoolies go viral
On Instagram and other public online sites I’ve seen harmless and fun stuff like girls surfing down a staircase on a mattress, guys zhooshing themselves before a big night, and girls deciding which onesie to wear out.
Then, at the pointy end, there are choice shots of girls and guys chucking up on streets; bedrooms sporting more empties than you can poke a stick at; and girls and guys looking suspiciously FUBAR – Effed Up Beyond All Recognition – probably from alcohol and/or drugs.
Who knows how many other fun and extreme picture stories are captured, posted and traded just between mates?
What doesn’t work
In case you wondered, the pics I spotted are selfies, group selfies, or shots taken by friends, and therein lies an idea I borrowed for my simple solution, which is unfolding as you read.
Before it goes viral, let me tell you what hasn’t worked so far:
- Telling Schoolies not to binge on drink or illegal drugs. D’oh, any 16 to 18 year old thinks they’re invincible.
- Asking Schoolies to behave. Hello, that’s an invitation to all lizard brains – the most primitive part of human brains – to act out. Besides, Schoolies want to create moments that give them legend or larrikin status, often by doing bad things.
- Threatening them with a rap sheet or limited university/job prospects. Cough, cough: we know how the law works Down Under. Mum and/or Dad will hire a lawyer to create a fanciful story that sees the misbehaving or booked Schoolie walk away with a pardon or community service.
- What’s more, at some Aussie universities, you can buy yourself a place. Well, I hear first hand accounts of this happening; a parent makes a “generous” donation and all’s forgotten. You know I can’t reveal the deets here but you can probably guess which unis I’m talking about.
- As for jobs, being FUBAR or anything else probably doesn’t matter if an employer doesn’t check a prospective employee’s online imprint or police record. In which case, re-read point three.
Instead, I say bring calm by finding out what’s important to Schoolies and make it part of a compelling story, soft of like a modern fairytale, that gets them to think twice before doing stoopid or cruel things, to themselves and others.
Build positive connections
From my chats with a bunch of school leavers – all strangers – just before they eagerly headed off to Schoolies Week, I reckon we only need tell them this in future: “Watch your mates at Schoolies Week. The memory of hurting a bro or bestie lasts forever.”
Sure, the story line needs some hair gel for lift off, but it focuses on helping Schoolies create positive connections with the most important people in their world – their friends.
No one wants to eff over a mate by leading them to, say, balcony hop and fall, or letting a bestie have a random hook up when her mind is in a total fog.
Also, helping others slug excessive booze, butt chugging and king hits become a little trickier if you’ve really got your friend’s back.
No Schoolie wants to be part of story that sees a mate come to short or long term harm if their help could have prevented it. I’m sure living with the memory of any story like that would be too much to bear?
Doing bad stuff
Sadly, Schoolies don’t know what they don’t know about drug and alcohol abuse. Even if mates are still standing after several days of binge drinking and/or illicit drug taking, their minds and bodies are damaged, short and maybe long term.
There’s so much medical stuff on the effects of drug and alcohol abuse that I won’t spell it out for you here.
The fairytale expands
In case you wondered, my solution is still unfolding. It also includes bringing the mateship story – what I call a modern fairytale – alive and repeating it, which is exactly the kind of storytelling the other bits of our human brains crave.
So, I hope you’ll stay a little longer at my mind party and drop by the next post which reveals the final part of the solution. (Photo credit: http://www.littlemisswedding.co.uk)
- Do you think we are a nation of closet booze-hounds and druggies? If so, are Schoolies copying adults?