ONE of the hallmarks of youth is that each generation has had a catchphrase, song or movie that captures the desire for freedom from responsibility and all things serious.
In 2012 "YOLO" has emerged. The Motto by Canadian rapper Drake, a song with a generous serving of foul language, brought this acronym into everyday use for teens and young adults.
"You only live once" is the catch-cry for doing something, that with a bit more thought, you probably wouldn't.
For the offspring of middle-class society, this attitude can be perpetuated without too many detrimental consequences.
Frontal lobes develop alongside the need to take responsibility and off into the sunset of maturity they wander.
Unfortunately, a different tale unfolds for young people caught up in situations where the struggle to get to adulthood is often beyond the reach of some.
For these young people "you only live once" has a darker undertone as it is borne out of hopelessness and pain.
Three children who died in a high speed car crash in Melbourne recently, were the product of circumstances where hope for the future is hard to grasp.
Terri Leticq was 16. Her parents, both heroin addicts, were dead.
The other children, as well as Terri, were known to the Victorian child protection authorities.
When your future doesn't look bright, it becomes more tempting to live just for today.
If you are on a path that seems to be spiralling downwards, the term "you only live once" opens doors to the more dangerous aspects of risk taking.
Responsibility and consequences may not register as priorities, because when you can't imagine a future, the harmful results of your actions are largely meaningless.
The lives of these children mirror the lives of hundreds of other young Australians who are caught in a web that appears too difficult to break free from.
We can help to slowly untangle this web by supporting organisations that are at the coal-face of child homelessness, like the Salvation Army.
When we guide our own children through their "YOLO" period, taking time to encourage them to develop a vision for their futures and to accept responsibility for their actions is important.
The motto of living life to its full requires a little more planning, and it's a mindset that we can all benefit from.
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