Look At It This Way - August 12, 2011

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it’s not heavy policing we need. It’s heavy parenting. Or at least proper parenting. No law decrees police officers should play surrogate parents.

I accompanied a local police squad on anti-social behaviour patrol some time ago, midweek during school term, when most of the kids running amok should have been tucked up in bed with hot milk instead of running around with bottles of WKD and bad attitudes.

Some were carted off to parents who didn’t give a monkey’s that they were hurling abuse at strangers minutes earlier – or that their child could be dead from booze, or drug inflicted oblivion, at about the time they could be graduating from university in a parallel universe of privilege and opportunity. My wake up call came when a policewoman, on first name terms with the kids, conceded that at least she knew where they were, so could keep an eye on them, because some had form for breaking and entering. And they are at risk too.

So how do we set about reclaiming our kids, our communities and streets? By showing we care, by showing an example, by establishing firm rules, bedrock of respect, to self and others, rather than coming over all pink and fluffy and scared to say boo to a kid barely past Mother Goose reading age.

Three front pages have horrified me in recent days. The first featuring a war veteran, in his 90s, set upon in his own home by children, who tortured, taunted and robbed him. I don’t want to get my hands on those kids – but their parents...

The second featured the cess pit that passed for a home for two children, while their slob of a mum played online poker and neglected their cleaning, clothing, feeding and nurturing needs.

Then yesterday’s front page exposed the hypocrisy of a mother of five, who portrayed herself as the victim of yobbery, from a nearby hostel, while turning a blind eye to a drugs den run from her own home. I can’t bring myself to watch national news any more.

Not with my mother, born in the East End, one of the few children not to be evacuated from London, weeping while watching her city burn at the hands of kids little younger than her brother was, when he fought wartime fires, and dragged bodies out of bombed buildings.

I grew up in ‘60s Liverpool. Police feared rather than respected. Along with priests so strangely silent today.

I saw the best and worst of the police in Toxteth in 1981 when covering the riots; riots with a clearly discernible cause, albeit no justification. Those rioters, now in their 40s and 50s, whinge about their kids or grandkids going on the rob in the guise of a riot.

There’s nothing civil about this unrest. It’s war against the enemy within.

By their “loot” (rather than fruit) ye shall know them. Matthew 7:16 via MorleyAtheist: 55.

Jesus was making the point bad apples don’t grow on good trees. We need root and branch reform to halt this rot, cut it out, before it turns our green and pleasant land into hell on earth. And that starts at home, not in the House of Commons.