Shore challenges won't earn you entry to adult world
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Opinion

Shore challenges won't earn you entry to adult world

Is it bad that I am not surprised when I read the Triwizard Shorenament challenge book? Is it even worse that I understand it?

When I read through the challenges, apparently written by the boys at Shore school, I see the intentions behind the words. Many of these challenges are – for the most part – the sorts of things I found funny too as an 18-year-old boy.

The "Triwizard Shorenament Official Rule and Challenge Book". Police were alerted after Shore School became aware of the students' plans.

The "Triwizard Shorenament Official Rule and Challenge Book". Police were alerted after Shore School became aware of the students' plans.

They are clearly written with the false bravado and over-confidence many young boys possess: "I can do that, just watch." They include moaning in shops, jumping off wharfs, being a human bowling ball. I have done most of these sorts of things with my friends over the years.

There are also those challenges which are clearly attempts to enter the adult world: "win $50+ on the slaps", "Rail a cap", "Shoey a whole beer". Again, I have done most (not all) of these things.

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But then there are those that reflect the social structures of the world these boys are in. Spitting on a homeless person reeks of a class privilege where value and worth is attached to money. Women are dehumanised, reduced to a number out of 10 based on their physical attractiveness and used as jokes and points in a value system.

There is no doubt an excess to the challenges written in the Shore document, abetted by financial advantage and protected by social status that comes with being a young white male.

Shore is trying to work out who wrote the document.

Shore is trying to work out who wrote the document.Credit:Jim Rice

It's a list of things which are funny to people who have never sat on the phone with a girl they went to school with, who is pleading with them to stay on the line for a few hours so she isn't alone after being sexually assaulted at a party.

Who has never sat and talked to a homeless person caught in a vicious cycle of eviction, denied applications and unemployment, who needs $24 for the night so they can stay at a shelter down the road.

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But this is not a completely bewildering prank sheet which speaks only of the entitlement of private school boys. Because it is something a group of Year 6 public school kids knew too.

I had my first ever interaction with the police at the age of 12, on my last day of primary school. A group of us caught a bus to a friend's house, singing a song full of swear words on the way. On the walk from the bus stop, we stopped at a half-built house and started throwing rocks at the windows, before crossing a line of tape to cause more destruction.

About half an hour later, we were in the backyard of our friend's house painting skateboards when two police officers knocked at the door. A neighbour had been watching us at the construction site and called it in. All our parents were notified. In the car ride home, my bravado was gone. I started crying, unsure what the incident meant for my future.

The end of school brings a sense of independence and freedom. The boundaries of your world expand, and you want to push them to see how far they will go. But when you don't understand responsibility, or consequence, danger lies ahead.

Look deeper into this document and you will see the words of young people conjuring a rite of passage into a world they think they are ready for. While I swore on the back of the bus, taking those words to be a sign of my newfound liberation, the Shore boys sought to have a slap, objectify women, drink piss, and take drugs to thrust themselves into the adult world.

These challenges are not a ticket to freedom, nor to adulthood. They are boyish fantasies of the world that awaits them. Reality is far more complicated. Perhaps if we are more honest with children, from a younger age, about issues we try to protect them from, like poverty and sexual assault and racism, they won't get to 18 and think these problems are funny.

And if parents are paying $200,000 for a school to educate their sons, you would hope that education came with a reality check, to ensure those boys stay grounded and know what that coveted adult world is really like. And what it takes to be a member of it.

Brandon Jack is a writer and former Sydney Swan.

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