Friday, 10 April 2009

Violence and children

The story of the two children aged 10 and 11 who are reported to have tortured and assaulted two other young boys aged 9 and 11 is truly shocking. The full story was reported in The Times.

What was most shocking was the sheer level of violence used, and the ages of both the tormentors and the victims. There is a worrying trend in the UK of violence amongst children, with the assailants becoming younger, and the level of violence used increasing. Children have carried knives for decades, but the trend towards using them seems to be on the rise. Hardly a week goes by without a new story reporting an act of violence amongst children, and almost invariably a knife is involved.

A combination of peer pressure, gang culture and a complete lack of any moral compass are at the root of this social problem. It also seems to be an indication of a fractured society. Is it simply a co-incidence that many of the children involved in these crimes are from broken homes, where there is no enforcement of discipline and of right from wrong, where values such as compassion, respect and tolerance are taught. In short, where family values are engendered.

With no parental supervision, and little fear from our police, these children grow up with a completely skewed sense of what is acceptable behaviour in a civilised society. In the case reported here, both boys were in foster care.

The solution has to be a holistic one, involving parents, schools, the police and government. We need a joined up solution where all these agencies work together. It will certainly not be easy, but unless we want to have a repeat of this story, we must keep trying.

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