Saturday, 31 May 2008


My last post provoked a debate and I have received a lot of comments and emails from you, thank you. It's best I deal with them here, rather than go through each one individually.

If you are young, black, white or whatever, you mustn't feel that society is against you because it is not. People who shout out at youngsters for walking along the street are ignorant and useless. There are plenty of young people struggling out there and they are good individuals with respect, courtesy and a sense of morality - the bad kids are still in the minority I feel but that again is the problem - we tend to pander to minorities and ignore the damage and segregation it causes among most of the population. What we need to do is be fair to everyone, regardless, but we have no ability to do that effectively and we fear being called something-ist if we try.

Respect for the police and teachers has diminished because kids are told their 'rights' by their parents and parents do this because they fear a lack of power when other authorities are in charge of their off-spring. They want to control their children, so they degrade the police officer's and teacher's power by spouting off at every opportunity about abuse and assault. This has its roots in the many stories that were headlined over the past decades about child abuse, corporal punishment and the very real misuse of power by a minority of those who had it - off we went like headless chickens when a few bad apples were caught. It's the same today; our armed officers are now almost ritually put on trial if they shoot an armed and dangerous man; moreso after the shooting of Jean Charles de Menenez. That, of course, was a terrible tragedy in which a communication failure resulted in an innocent man's death but nobody stopped to think of the bravery involved when those officers ran directly into what they believed was a terrorist with a bomb. After 7/7 they knew that their lives were in imminent danger but they did their job without hesitation. That is precisely why we have them, is it not? If they'd shot a terrorist and an explosion had been stopped, they'd be heroes. So, we're doing it again; we're counting the number of shots fired and soon enough we'll expect these men and women to challenge someone and then wait five minutes before firing in case they've got it wrong. I can tell you they'll all hang up their guns, as would I.

There are many more examples of such stupidity but my point is that, over time, these stories and the way they are written create an undercurrent of hatred and thus a lack of respect. Power is slowly removed from these people en masse and voila! - we have a society that honestly believes that they can tell the cops and teachers what to do and that we know better every time.

In my profession I have often felt disgust and anger at the behaviour of some of the 'patients' I have to deal with. I refuse to call them sir or madam because I will not give them the excuse to overturn my polite respect with vitrionic hatred. Those poor cops and teachers out there are under the same pressure to bow down to basically bad people. Why should they? If they input nothing to society then they should receive nothing in return. What is wrong with us? If we were a company, we'd be in liquidation right now.

My message is simple if you care to listen. Don't tell our police force how to do their job and trust that the majority of them are good and fair. Don't tell your kids that the teacher can't punish them because that just opens up the flood gates and they will go to school knowing that they can do what they want!

If you are a parent, look at your children; consider how they behave towards you - it's a real clue to how they are behaving towards others.

I watched a little gang of hoodies walking up the street in north London as I travelled home; they were all black kids. They looked like they were going nowhere really and stayed pretty close together as they walked along. I considered what I'd do if I was a cop. Would I stop and search? If they were white, would I still do the same? If they carried a weapon, what next? I felt like a racist just because I immediately thought they were up to no good but everyone has an instinct about people and you can tell when someone is a threat and when they are not. How many times have you crossed over when you've seen a group of young men walking in your direction? Would you do that if they were women? Does that make you sexist?

On the flip side, I've had problems with white guys and have made great friends with b
lack guys out there; it really makes no difference to me at all - it's all about their demeanour and the way they talk to me. I take no-one on face value.

Using the race card to stop the police from thwarting another stabbing isn't good enough and, frankly, you are an apologist. Most of the knife and gun crimes are being carried out by black youth in London - their skin colour has nothing to do with it really; these are bad people and they could be yellow but there has to be a bit of common sense used - targeted searching must be implemented. The same principle applies at airports, where they will search old ladies and have children remove their shoes in order to show 'fairness'. They're just too scared to be seen as racist or something-ist if they select identifiable possibilities and search them only.

It's all very complex and raises issues we don't want to face but most of us are thinking or discussing behind closed doors. Plenty of white kids carry knives but, as I said...and it's a fact...almost all of the reports you have read have involved black youth gangs, so it is inevitable that most of the stop and searches you'll hear about will target them. Sorry, but do you want to live in safety or not?

It's all too easy to sit in judgment of the people charged with our safety and the education of our children. It's time to stop it and let them do their jobs. I teach first aid in lots of schools and I have never met such a population of worried professionals in my life; most of them are too scared to put a plaster on your kids because you might try to sue them if a rash breaks out! For Pete's sake, it's all gone too far, hasn't it?

As for Liberalism; I agree, I can't use the word negatively and I didn't mean to. I am trying to express the mind-set of parents who think that freedom is allowing their kids to run riot without consequences and who tell them they are better than the rest of society, so they must cry out for their rights whenever someone challenges their behaviour. That's not a society at all, that's tribal.



Miss Vertigo said...

*rises to feet, applauds wildly*

Thank goodness, sir, that somebody in this country still has some common sense.

gjmoomin said...


kethry said...

I've just read this post and your previous one. i agree with most, if not all, of what you've said.

I live in manchester, a poor part (the east side), where there's a lot of antisocial behaviour. Its not so bad that you can't walk down the street for fear of being shot, but at the same time, there is a group of teenagers (15-20 years old) who like to hang out in this area. Our flat is on a street corner, opposite a factory. They like to play football against the factory wall. The constant "thumpthumpthump" starts around 11am, and continues up to 11pm in summer. there's the associated arguing, fights, shouting, drinking and so on, which, frankly, really scares us sometimes. They kick against the communal front door to our flats, wanting into the hall cos its marginally warmer in there, or they've hidden drugs there. the younger ones learn from them: kick against the door, and when we go out to tell them to stop, they run off shouting obscenities.

To take one family: although the parents are supportive of us telling them off, and if we tell them, they do drag their kids around and make them apologise (which has happened once or twice), at the same time, the parents are rarely actually *there*.. they're often out at the pub, drinking, and their children - a 17year old girl with a baby of her own, a 16 year old lad who hangs out with the older lads, including the leader of the gang (who is the father of the baby previously mentioned), a 15 year old who is a budding arsonist, makes small fires outside the communal door (we've had to put any number of fires out) and a 4 year old who loves to run away (and can you blame him?). punishment is doled out via slaps, they love having very very public arguments and fights, the police have been called numerous times.. and that's just one family in the area.

you're absolutely right in that its about a lack of respect for *anyone* else, a society that is about "me me me" because no one else has ever shown them any consideration, respect or kindness.

I do gardening, growing my own fruit and veg, and one local lad, who is 9, loves to hang over the fence and ask questions about what i'm doing. He's polite about it, and we're now on first name terms: he's had a tomato plant off me, which he's growing himself, and he helps me in the garden periodically. I think i'm probably the first person in his life to use terms like "please", "thankyou", and showing him kindness and respect. its really not difficult to teach the little ones. Its teaching the parents and the older ones (who will soon become parents themselves, thus perpetuating the cycle), that is so crucial at this point.. or things will just get worse and worse.

thanks for a thought provoking couple of posts.

Fiz said...

Well done! You're saying what I and many other other friends and family feel and discuss in emails. Let's hope certain people "in government" (barely!) wake up and smell the coffee before our country does go to hell in a handcart! (If it hasn't already)I agree with you about teachers too - my daughter's year two teacher told me it was very difficult to stop rushing over to a hurt child and cuddling it, but she had to because it was the law.

Kate said...

I agree 100% with you. I am only 23 and the difference between when I was younger and now is massive. I always had respect for people in authority and so did the rest of the people my age. It amazes me how different things have become in such a short period of time.

JuliaM said...

"...our armed officers are now almost ritually put on trial if they shoot an armed and dangerous man; moreso after the shooting of Jean Charles de Menenez. That, of course, was a terrible tragedy in which a communication failure resulted in an innocent man's death but nobody stopped to think of the bravery involved when those officers ran directly into what they believed was a terrorist with a bomb."

Actually, I wouldn't want to see the officers in the armed unit prosecuted for just that reason. I truly believe they had no choice, believing as they did that the target was a suicide bomber.

But the breakdown in communications on the day? The mishandling of the situation and dithering over the course of action? The wilfully false information given to the press about De Menezes' actions on the day to justify the use of deadly force?

Those are acts for which senior officers should have been charged and sacked in disgrace. The fact that they were not has merely served to reinforce the image of the police as 'untouchable'...

Sewmouse said...

You know, I'm 52 yrs old - live in a suburb of Chicago. Things are significantly different here now than they were 40-odd years ago.

Children are taught in school that if Mummy or Daddy hits them, it is child abuse and they should call the authorities. Now, as an adult, I know there is a VAST difference between a disciplinary spanking and child abuse - but kids don't - and families have been torn apart by a recalictrant child calling Family Services after being given a light spanking on the butt.

So even "good" parents become frightened of disciplining their children, for fear of being demonized by teachers or social workers without a clue.

Television as well is a problem. We had "Leave it to Beaver" - where the baddest character in the show was Eddie Haskell - "What a lovely frock, Mrs. Cleaver", and he ALWAYS got into trouble, and there was always discussion between Dad and Wally and the Beav about why such things were bad.

TV now is all about getting away with it, or violent cops with low morals banging every fem they encounter and then bitching about their supervisors.

And it is not just kids! Adults too seem very quick to take offense and give it, rather than doing something nice because you CAN.

Until society as a WHOLE begins to remember that kindness and courtesy will get you more in the long run for less than will violence and rudeness... it's gonna be a long haul.

In Orlando Florida at 11:30 at night several years ago, my mother was dying and I had gotten lost in my rental car looking for the hospital. I drove to a gasoline station and tried asking for directions, but no hable englais.

Four young black men (late teens, early tweens?)in baggy clothes and high-end sneakers (our chavs) - were in the store part of the station. One of them heard me trying to get directions and came over and asked where I needed to go. Gave me very, very clear directions - and wished me luck.

My first thought had been to fear those boys, but now I remember how my parents generation treated "Hippies" - and try to remember that not everyone wearing a Cowboy hat is a cattle rustler.

Louise said...

Well said! A bit of bloody sense! This country has gone too far the way of being scared of offending the minority and political correctness crazy!

I'm 25 and have been brought up to respect authority figures........ police, teachers, parents and when I one day have my own family I intend to do the same!

Rachel T said...

I'm 22 weeks pregnant and bringing a child into this world scares the living daylights out of me sometimes.

Societies operate best with boundaries and rules, compassion and tolerance.

Thanks for having the balls to post a frank, considered and honest opinion.

Heather said...

My father describes his upbringing where if you misbehaved when you were out playing the neighbor that saw it would give you a whack with a wooden spoon. Then when you got home your Mother had already been phoned, so you got another one for your bad behaviour, plus an extra for embarrassing the family in front of a neighbor.

Nowadays only the very bravest will even say anything to a child. The number of times I've called a child out on their behavior and been met with stunned silence is astounding. Even worse, I find that other adults will sidle up to me afterwards and whisper "well done" as if they're afraid something might happen to them for actually insisting on standards of behaviour.

When did we start to fear our children? We are the adults and we set the standards. Our respective governments have proven that they're unable to set or enforce standards, so for goodness' sake, let us parents who actually want to parent do it without tying our hands!