Bali teen drug arrest

Since I’ve posted the Bali entry on the Beach Blog, I’ve been asked by several people to give my opinion on the current issue concerning a 14 year old Australian boy who was arrested for marijuana purchase in Bali. I don’t know if anyone is following this story outside of Australia. The gist of the story appears to be that a 14 year old was arrested after buying 6 grams of marijuana while on vacation with his parents in Bali.

First, let me say there are lots of rumors and I don’t know what is true—I’ve heard the boy already had a drug problem, whatever that means, that he was set up to be caught, that his parents are wealthy and this is a scam to get money by I don’t know by whom. I can’t comment on any of that. I can only comment that if this were my child, I would be distraught. I would also be very sure to carefully consider taking teens to Bali or anywhere they might be exposed to marijuana that is cheap and all over the place and let there be no doubt, that happens in Bali. My policy has always been not to take vulnerable teens to any place where they could be arrested, even if innocent, and there is little that can be done to get them out of jail. I cannot emphasize that enough. Indonesia and several other Asian countries clearly state on entry at customs “Death Penalty to Drug Traffickers” and they have executed foreigners. I also understand that many teens believe nothing can happen to them—it’s normal for them to think that way and one of the reasons they are devastated when something does happen, whatever it might be.

I’ve also heard criticism of the parents allowing a 14 year old to wander around Kuta alone; I cannot imagine being able to police a teen that age all the time and I don’t blame them for that at all.

I don’t think a teen that age belongs in jail; I think and hope he has been frightened sufficiently after a week in jail. I realize that the decision rests with the Indonesian government and law courts despite any opinions expressed in Australia or anywhere else. This should be another lesson that the laws in another country must be obeyed, that a tourist is within their jurisdiction and consular officials may not be able to do very much under those circumstances. Irrespective, I still hope this kid is released and sent back to Australia. As a parent, I can’t wish for any other ending to what must be a nightmare for his family. That doesn’t mean people should not go to Bali but like anywhere in the world, they should be aware they are not above the law and it will be enforced.