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Law-breaking celebrities are our children’s new role...

Defend Truth

Opinionista

Many celebs are vying to become the ‘next top defendant’, not the next top role model

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Hans Mackenzie Main is a writer and columnist.

The influence of sports stars and celebrity personalities embroiled in litigation may just be inspiring a new generation of criminal geniuses.

Parents, please take note that the sports and entertainment role models who your children look up to have changed career paths and are now spending their time in courtrooms.

The development will have a devastating effect on the hopes, dreams and aspirations of your spawn.

Where before the answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up, sweetie?” may have been a World Cup-winning flyhalf or Jack Sparrow, expect to now hear, “Mommy, I’m going to be the best defendant I can be”, or “Dad, I think my future is on the stand.”

Should your little go-getter decide to pursue a life of testifying full time, try not to blame yourself. The role models of today command a far greater portion of what little attention span your impressionable offspring has than you could ever wish for — 24 hours a day, they watch their idols on YouTube or TikTok or good old-fashioned TV facing the might of the law.

You could catch a glimpse of the action yourself as you clean up after your loved ones or bring them biscuits straight from the oven and think, “But didn’t I see the meticulously dressed man now trying to hide his face behind a mask kicking penalties two Saturdays ago?” And, “Isn’t the guy with the jury wrapped around his bejewelled finger the voice of Johnny Puff in the animated series Puffins Impossible?”

Rehabilitating kids with their hearts set on a life of crime after seeing their heroes break the law with impunity could require some changes in and around the house. A renewed focus on what it means to be punished when found guilty of wrongdoing may serve as a very handy deterrent. It could be time to up the hours you ground them for, or increase the number of offences that will land them in trouble.

Surveil your kids carefully. Set up stakeouts at the school playground and in your backyard. They could be concocting a plan in the treehouse or recruited into a gang during break. If ever there was a time for helicopter parenting, this is it.

When you have some alone time with them before bed, impress upon your young ones that it is indeed better to study the law than to break it. It’s never too late to bring around the criminal mind. The sooner you start, the better.

Chances are you’ll fail at changing your child’s crooked mind, especially if they’re a teenager. For the 13-year-old who blindly follows the examples set by the influencers they see on Instagram, sidestepping accountability is particularly hard to crack. Now may be the time to step back and not smother them.

If walking through a media scrum, saying “no comment” is the path they choose, let them be. If they say they’ll bang on that bathroom door until their knuckles bleed, again, even if that means another court appearance, respect their decision.

In time, you’ll have to accept your children’s life choices — for what else can you do?

You’ll come to the deep insight that they are not an extension of you and may even have slain you in their minds to become their own persons. Embrace the situation.

Try to appreciate the positives. Seeing your child in the dock emulating their childhood heroes may even make your heart swell with pride. They’ve made it, at last, you could tell yourself, having it out with a judge while millions of viewers hang on their every word.

And you’ll save a ton of money — provided your kid is assigned an attorney or decides to defend themself. Sending a talented child to the rugby academy doesn’t come cheap. And neither does driving a good-looking one to auditions.

So, count your blessings. There is always a silver lining to rearing a future convict. A brush with the law may even do them a world of good. If nothing else, the love of your life could pick up handy legal terms, such as actus reus (guilty act) and animus nocendi (intention to harm), with which they can regale their dinner guests when they’ve done their time. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.

 

 

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