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A few years ago I was the single mother of an 18 year old son, Jett. An engaging, eloquent and talented young man. And yes, defiant at times, typically disorganised and impulsive. Like most his age, he thought he knew it all, and mum knew nothing.
I had told him every time he went out that he wasn’t to catch public transport alone, and naturally he assured me he wouldn’t. And naturally, I believed him.
Late one Saturday afternoon he hopped a train from his friends place to go to a party the other side of Sydney, and fell asleep on the train, overshooting his station. One stop short of ‘end of the line’ three youths woke him saying ‘Mate this is the last station’. It was in fact, the second last station really nothing more than a remote platform 1 km from a main road. Jett stayed on the station not knowing what to do as there was no guard, no timetable and no one else around. Thinking that the guys who were kind enough to wake him might help him out, he followed them to the car park and found himself alone with a group of
15 youths all milling around.
‘Mum I thought I was gonna die’
As their attention turned to him, he realised he was in trouble and unable to get back to the platform, tried to be friendly. But he was scared. I asked him later, ‘How did you feel when you realised you were in trouble’. ‘Mum I thought I was gonna die’, he answered.
Jett was beaten pretty badly and left for dead and to this day carries the scars by way of three metal plates in his jaw. As he lay there dazed and confused he could hear them laughing, he said they seemed far away, Jett in fact was losing consciousness.
It’s still not clear how he managed to get back to the platform and press the emergency button, but he did and 5 police cars arrived, as this particular station was a well known ‘hang’ to the police, and he was taken to hospital.
I’ll never forget the phone call, the one that every parent dreads. After the operation, the detectives wanted to interview Jett, and did for hours. The detectives were kind, but relentless in their questioning. When I asked them why, they told me they believed that this gang was responsible for a spate of attacks in the area and were desperate to identify them before someone was killed.
This is something I’ll never forget, seeing his body bruised and battered and the myriad of emotions you feel as a parent, first shock and disbelief that it could happen to your child, and then the anger comes, the rage, that tight ball in the pit of your stomach, then the guilt. You blame yourself. Then the helplessness and worry.
What if it happens again?
I’d always worried when Jett went out, even to early teen sleepovers with parental supervision, you always do as a parent, regardless of their age. Jett is now 22 and to this day I still can’t go to sleep until I know my son is safe.
Since that night 4 years ago, the thought was always in the back of my mind……’How can I protect my son?