I am sure most of you will have read the story of the two boys from Edlington who almost killed two others in the most horrific circumstances. The politicians assure us that despite the similarities with the Jamie Bulger case this is not reflective of our society. I disagree.
I have said before that I regularly attend partnership meetings with other agencies such as Social Services, Youth Offending Team, Education etc. where we discuss those young people that are causing concern in the community, usually by committing crime.
One child we discussed for five years was an 11 year old boy who became one of the youngest in the country to be made subject of an ASBO. He had also been excluded from school. He lived with his mother, who had no job. She spent her time sat at home drinking and smoking cannabis, which she shared with her son. The boy roamed the streets all hours and hung around with older boys committing offences, including harassing their neighbours. If any neighbours complained to the police the mother would be round their house threatening them.
Mother and son were regularly arrested for their behaviour but they threatened and intimidated witnesses and cases were dropped as witnesses refused to go to Court. We had intelligence that the boy was out committing knife point robberies and there were robberies in the area. The victims, who were also young people, either did not report the offences or refused to attend court as they were frightened for their future safety.
I wanted the family thrown out of their provided home and the boy put into care. I was scoffed at. The Housing Trust, Social Services and Youth Offending Team were only interested in convictions. Allegations and information that someone was committing offences counted for nothing in their eyes. It is pure luck that this boy did not become the murderous thug of the Bulger and Edlington cases. I suspect there are hundreds of similar cases waiting to become one.
This boy would have been far better off away from his mother in a decent loving home but there seems to be an over riding mentality in services that should be there to protect young people to leave them with their inadequate parents no matter what. Making excuses, doing nothing and hoping nothing major happens until they reach 18 when they can wash their hands of them seems to be the way they operate.
At the risk of getting into politics, what has gone wrong with our society that we are creating monsters like this? On the one hand we have the well educated and highly rewarded echelon with their huge salaries and bonuses. Is anyone really worth that much? And these people largely seem to be self interested gluttons rather than the philanthropists of the recent past.
On the other hand we have a significant part of our society that seems to be obsessed with celebrities and the idea that you can become somebody and rich just by appearing on television rather than working at school and getting a job and making something of your life. Your worth should depend on who you are not how much you are worth or how renowned.
The benefits system undermines the family. We have a responsibility to look after people, whether one-parent families or broken families, but we have created a society where broken families are the norm and living on benefits is a way of life rather than a safety net.
Banging out children should not mean a passport to a house and an all expenses paid lifestyle. The safety net needs to be there, but it needs to be tough to deter abuse of the system. The whole system should be designed to encourage the family unit. Families have to make choices; I reject the idea that you can have a career and bring up children. Most people cannot afford nannies and why have children if you want them brought up by the nanny and private education. For most of us, the mother or father needs to be at home while the other provides. The idea that you can have a career and children needs to be rethought for most people. Why bother having children if you are not going to bring them up with the love and time they need?
Incidentally, I hear the boys that murdered Jamie Bulger have been set up with new identities and lives in Australia. Have I missed something? I didn't think the Antipodes was a penal colony any longer.