MARK SAINSBURY: Do we have a generation of deadbeat parents?

Are our young better off being brought up by their grandparents?

These are the cold hard facts: proof that parents are failing their kids. And that may be generous - to fail them implies you’ve tried and didn’t quite make it.

Look at what happened in Kaikohe over the weekend - kids running riot, stealing booze from a bottle store then heading to a party where the adults shielded them from the police.

Or in Auckland's Mt Roskill, where two shopkeepers were viciously beaten by six teenagers - and a 13-year-old girl who was caught has since run away from CYF care.

Where the hell are their families? Where the hell are their parents?

Do you know where your kids are? Do you have teens who disappear at night? If your kids came home with stolen goods would your first response be to hold off the cops so they couldn’t be held to account for their crimes?

When you’ve been whacked 30 times you have little sympathy for kids who have had a rough start or didn’t get the right kind of love. You want revenge. You want justice. You want someone to pay.

That’s not necessarily the healthiest view but it's certainly understandable. And all this comes after the Children's Commissioner successfully lobbied to have the age of criminal responsibility raised.

Now 17-year-olds and younger are dealt with by the Youth Court. The weekend's incident will see pressure to have it lowered. I know this is knee-jerk stuff, but that’s an easy label to put on it when you’re not the one being beaten by a group of teenage thugs - and let's be honest that’s what they are.

A gang of kids in Kaikohe rampaging around, stealing and committing acts of vandalism - where do they get the message that this is OK? I saw a local man on Newshub last night say 'don’t blame the kids, blame the parents that’s where they take their cue from' and you know, I agree.

Which is why many would have raised a collective cheer to hear one grandma up there recognising her mokopuna in the CCTV footage – and dobbed him in .

Good on her I say, but the real question is why did it fall to Grandma? We know all around the country that grandparents are stepping up as parents fail their kids through their own fault or not.
So do we have a generation of deadbeat parents? In Northland unemployment, drugs and boredom are all factors - but are any of these an excuse? And Kaikohe is not alone, many small towns in New Zealand face the similar issues with restless youth.

Kaikohe should be the ultimate place to live. But who would want to move to a town where there are simply no police on duty for a significant portion of the day.

Is policing even the answer? Do we put a barbed wire fence around troubled towns - do we want a police state (or is it grandparents to the rescue again).

If parents are failing their kids is it the likes of the Kaikohe grandmother who said 'my mokopuna is going to account for what he did' that will save the day.

Mark Sainsbury hosts Morning Talk from 9am-midday on RadioLIVE.