For those of you who don’t know, we had riots in England last year. They started in London and ended in many major cities across the UK. Most of the people involved in these riots where under drinking age (18 in the UK) and seemed to do it so they could smash and loot footlocker and JD sport. How did we get to this? I understand that a few of the rioters decided that they were protesting against what they saw was an unfair shooting of a man (a drug dealer as well) in north London, I am unsure though how that justifies looting trainer shops. Forgive me for being stupid, but if there is a link I can’t see it. How did we get here as a nation? I have a few ideas, personal ones of course and with only anecdotal or personal evidence.
1) a sense of entitlement: I don’t mean the kind the gentry or aristocracy have, the kind of born with a silver spoon in your mouth thing, what I am talking about is based around the X factor. All of these children believe in a bastardised version of the American dream. Instead of ‘I can do anything if I try’ it’s more a ‘I should be given everything without trying cos that’s what happens on the TV’. And when they realise they are not the next Cheryl Cole or T-Pain then they start to feel a sense of worthlessness.
2) what can we do? My parents grounded me if I was naughty, my teachers gave me detention and phoned my parents (who then grounded me) if I was bad at school, my neighbours told me off and then told my parents (who then… You get it) if I was doing something I shouldn’t. Now? The parents don’t even come to parent teacher meetings. Many of them ask the school ‘what can I do?’ Try being a parent, see if that helps.
3) no respect: the kids round my way won’t listen to anyone, not even the police. I was stopped by a gang of kids (3 or 4 sixteen year olds) who were blocking the pavement. I simply said ‘excuse me’ and ended up having to talk my way out of a possible beating. I have seen police officers ask gangs of kids to move on, the kids say no and the police have no choice but to back down because they are so outnumbered (something indicative of the riots). When I was a kid, in fact even now, if a police officer asks me to move I do it.
4) wanna be gangsters: not the godfather italian kind but the 50 cent ‘I got shot, how cool am I’ kind. Kids now carry knives (they would carry guns if they were legal to buy I’m sure) and so I am reticent to intervene in anything to do with them. I have often asked kids to turn down their mobile phones (why they can’t use headphones is beyond me) on the bus, and most of the time they do. Then I read some statistics on how many carried knives, now I just turn my music up on my headphones.
5) boredom. The government took away all the funding for summer holiday activities and centres. The riots happened in the summer. You do the maths.
Anyway, I know it’s not all the kids fault. I know it’s the parents, the media, the government and many other factors. It is also down to the young adult though, as not all of them got a new pair of trainers for free last summer. Some of them stayed in and locked their doors.