Posted by: BUBBLES | 2003/03/03


I come from a very decent family and we were always better off than the avergae family. My father died while I was quite young and my mother raised us all on her own. Not one of her children were problem children or ever involved in drags & gangsterism. However, I have a 17yr old nephew who is in matric whose behaviour & habits bother me. Everyday day he hangs out on the corner of the road in which he lives with people who you can clearly see are drug users and gangsters, in other words skollies. His parents know that he hangs out at the corner but I don't know if they know who he socialises with there. Maybe they do that they're turning a blind eye. I've just very recently been told that he uses dagga as well as other drugs and that he has a supplier from Congo. Apparently he has to try out the drugs for this person in order to be supplied. He has also told my daughter that he has been initiated by a gang the night that it happened, and also showed her the tattoo with the gang sign. He made her promise that she would not tell anybody and said that she is the only in the family that knows. My niece & him are at the same school - she was approached by a teacher and asked whetehr he uses drugs as he throws tantrums while at school. She told them to speak to his parents which obviously did not happen. Because of the type of people his parents are I cannot approach them & tell them anything. Firstly, his mother would hide everything from his father and then on the other hand he would be able to lie to his father by denying everything and then his father will end up being cross with me 7 think that I lied. My daughter is also terrified that if anyone finds out about the initiation & tattoo, that he would then ask his gang members to harm her as she is the only that knows.
What can I do to prevent him from getter deeper into the mess that he already is in. Please help!

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Our expert says:
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Dear Bubbles,
This is really not a psychiatry problem, but one about the dificulties of living in a sick society. It does indeed sound as if the boy is involved with a gang and the sort of drug-dealing scene that can easily suck him into worse and more dangerous problems. It sounds amazing, though, that his parents, living in the same place, could not be aware of what is going on ; unless they are working very hard NOT to know what's happening.
If the mother, learing about this, would try to help it to continue by hiding the facts from the faher, that's frankly not much of a mother. And if the father would simply believe his son's denials, without checking out the facts, ten he's pretty foolish, too. FInally, the teachers are highly irresponsible if they have, as it sems, good reason to believe the boy is on drugs, and haven't bothered to talk to the parents about this.
Maybe the first priority for the time being, would be to protect yourself and your daughter from harm, until such time as the parents start to wake up and smell the garbage.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Spooky | 2003/03/04

Dear Bubbles

Sadly, your nephew is already trapped and is presently going through a rebellious stage in his life in which he "knows it all" and adults “know nothing” about today’s modern way of life. He will be unlikely to respond well to adult “squares” or “straights” advice. His newly acquired status as a "gangster" makes him feel very "macho" and he will be receiving all the approval and praise required (albeit from the bad guys), not only to keep him going in that direction, but also to spiral him deeper into their dark underworld of drugs, alcohol and crime.
To them its great fun and an exiting alternative to the boring, mundane, "normal" way of life. At this stage, he probably has no idea of the real dangers which still lie ahead. This is how many alcoholics, drug addicts, drug lords, thieves, burglars, robbers, rapists, murders, car-jackers, etc. are born.
Frightening, isn't it, Bubbles ? And it’s all true.

But alas, I have good news !
Your nephew is very fortunate to have a relative like yourself who cares and is concerned for him. Yes, you CAN make a difference. I must, however, sensitise you to the fact that it is not going to be easy. Not at all. Frankly, the failure rate of rehabilitating such a victim, far exceeds the success rate.
As with all problem solving issues, there's a right way and there's a wrong way.
Any bomb disposal expert, I'm sure, will also tell you that.

The wrong way:- To scold, embarrass, humiliate, and punish him.

The right way:- To lure him away from the environment and elements that expose him to these dangers by offering a substitute or an alternate way of life that would be even more exiting and more attractive to him.

Explain that his situation is not unique and acknowledge that what he is doing, given all the circumstances, is understandable (though unacceptable). Explain that there are other, far more rewarding ways of having fun. Show him articles and pictures of how history has proved, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the horrific consequences of drug abuse and gangsterism are never escaped by those who had been fooled into choosing that way of life. Sooner or later, all drug users become addicts who are invariably eventually faced with choosing between life or “the drug” (death).
Then there is life in prison which, especially in our country, is like living Hell.

In other words, frighten him away from his present indulgences with Negatives, and win him over to new interests with Positives.

Finally, Bubbles, I am no expert, but would like to advise you that, once you’ve done your best for him, with or without success, you concentrate your thoughtfulness and kindness on yourself and your personal loved ones, you really deserve it !!

Good Luck.

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