Sunday, November 27, 2005

Lessons from No Man's Land

A sobering feature from today’s Sunday Times, written by social worker Shaun Bailey, which in parts is as much a warning for parts of Thanet as it is for Tottenham.

“The more liberal we’ve been, the more the poor have suffered. “

“On one of the estates here there are 1,600 young people and kids under the age of 19. The sight of a big group of young people just terrorises most people. This is where it starts. The kids are perceived as a threat. They are dealt with in that manner. Then they take on the role they were handed. Put that with difficult parenting and you’ve got a problem.

“If you talk to those families where children are behaving the worst, you find that the kids have no rules and no boundaries. The reason is that the parents have never had any point at which to put them in place.

Many of the young people I deal with have never spent any meaningful time with their mothers or their fathers. Their parents didn’t do anything with them and they have no set of family rules that govern them.”

This short excerpt is taken from Shaun Bailey's pamphlet. No Man's Land: how Britain's Inner City Youth are Being Failed, to be published tomorrow by the Centre for Policy Studies. www.cps.org.uk

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know its pointless to say why do these "poorer" families have so many kids they don't bring up properly but WHY DO THEY???
Are just fffing stupid?
I think its the fault of our lax and abused nanny Social Security system, feeds and houses them and keeps them in booze fags and skysport tv.
If they were in Africa they would just die.
Or did the educational system 15 or 20 years ago fail them?
Is it OUR fault they have all these b****y kids out creating havoc on the estates like the one I live on?
I know this much - its not MY fault - and I know another thing - Thanet police do bu***r all about it!
No wonder there ain't no HAPPINESS here like someone posted recently.
They're apparently not happy and we certainly are not.
And our kids have to mix with them in school (if their kids go which fortunately isn't always happening) and can pick up bad habits from them!
No matter what you do at home with your children - unless you send them to an expensive private school they will pick up bad habits from the other kids whose parents have no parenting skills or interest in acquiring any.
My kids are grown up now, one just finished her PhD, the other was not academic but has a good steady job.
They never lived on the street, never got into any trouble, don't take drugs or smoke at all or drink excessively. I would say they are valuable, productive members of society and its down to us.
We did a good job.
What does the future hold for this generation of foulmouthed drugtaking emotionally damaged vandalising hoodies?
And what about their kids, because they are sure to have lots of them unless they are forcibly sterilised - which is not going to happen in our society.
Can we, as a nation, afford this nightmare scenario?
Yes, where is the happiness?

Anonymous said...

On a purely personal note, can I say that large families, bad behaviour, and social security abuse do not always go together. As the subject of a BBC documentary in 2001 on Big Families, we were given less time than some other subject families because we didn't conform to this sort of steroetype.

So, 12 children, 6 boys, 6 girls, one working in the NHS, one a police officer, one a chef in Australia, one due to enter Sandhurst next year, one studying medical science at Birmingham University (getting his Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award in December), then A levels and scattered through the school system....youngest is 4.

Its about attitude to the rest of the world, dare I say it, old fashioned family values, expectations and motivation.

You are right. Its down to parents. And the more the state usurps the role of parents, the worse it gets. Responsibility comes first and foremost, knowing and caring where your children are and what they are doing.

Subject close to my heart and closer to my empty wallet!

Chris Wells

Anonymous said...

Chris please accept my apologies, I certainly did not mean that all large families are scroungers or dysfunctional.
Just that I cannot understand why some dysfunctional adults who have no interest in acquiring and no prospect of ever acquiring parenting skills or earning enough money to support them seem to recklessly have 3 or 4 or 5 kids and then milk the state for handouts and also ignore the kids needs and education.
In my family history there are 2 families of 10 and 12 children respectively. This was the result of (the older generation, 1900) no family planning available and the younger generation (1950) being "good" Catholics.
There were no benefits available to the first family, 4 died in childhood leaving 6, to the second family there were at least healthcare benefits available and all survived.
Both families grew up in poverty, all did well at school and worked their butts off to ensure they had a decent standard of living as adults.
There is no history of crime or neglect in the family at all.
None of them now have larger families themselves than they can afford.None live on benefits.

I have been told by my cousins from the family of 12 that it was a joy to grow up in a large family, even though it meant hand me down clothes for most of them and no privacy.
They seem very well adjusted and also are very tolerant unselfish people, frankly much more so than myself and my sister who were a family of only 2 kids.

Anonymous said...

Apology accepted in the spirit offered.

By way of explanation, one marriage, no twins no adoption no cheating.......we're not Catholic and for most of our married life we have had a television set! However, as I do not drink or smoke, there has to be some fun in life.

When Grace and I first met, she talked in terms of 8 children, myself 2. I didn't realise at the time she was having her 8 first...then we overshot and had to even up the numbers.

Its all about the level of commitment you put into the responsibilities you have taken on.

There is, however, a serious problem developing in this country around supporting disadvantage, and the choices people make when facing poverty. There are problems of underclass, and the system seems designed to reward those who refuse to truly help themselves, and punish those who try to behave as we would wish. I see this in the operation of the social security system; school admission; school transport; and even adult education. All are awash with target cultures about hard to reach groups, all seem to miss providing support for families trying hard to get out of the cycle of repeating disadvantage.

Society's building blocks begin with stable families and a sense of real continuity in family life, which, in my view, begins with the commitment of marriage in a traditional sense, not in the transient manner it is transacted so often today. There are no penalties in the system for not being married anymore, and whilst it is fine to say we must welcome all and ensure they don't feel excluded, when we know marriage works as that basic building block to disencourage it in every way- by raising equal status to non married couples, by taking even minor recognition of special status out of the tax and benefit system, in cash or in acknowledgment...we are all partners on government forms these days..we undermine the best ally we have in combatting the disintegration of part of our society.

So, may be we aren't so very far apart in our general views as at first seemed to be the case!

Chris Wells

Anonymous said...

Perhaps that person should have written:

The kids are conceived as a treat, they are dealt with in that manner.
They take on the role of a pack of wild animals, then they blame their incompetent parents...and WE HAVE THE PROBLEM!

Anonymous said...

Chris one major problem for unmarried couples who have assets is that death duties apply if one partner dies, if actually legally married there is no tax.
This may force myself and my very long term partner to marry, its not really the right reason is it?
We just never got round to it somehow and now feel that if the only reason is financial we shouldn't do it now either.
But also it would be criminal to "give" about £400,000 to the inland revenue to spend on benefits for scroungers and the iraq war.
If I could specify it was to be spent on hospitals I wouldn't care.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughts. I would respond in two ways. Firstly, if as a society we wish to give active support to marriage, then by definition we must in some ways treat other domestic arrangements less favourably. At the same time the concept of civil partnership, to be available effectively as a form of gay marriage from December onwards, could be reorganised as a form of legal recognition of commitment, ie less a form of shadow marriage, more a recognition of the type of right you are talking about, and available for single people to register as well with for example their daughters to ensure continuity in their lives. See Carol Sarler column in The Times yesterday, 28th November.

Marriage is and should remain unique; we should be concentrating on the practical solutions of other relationship difficulties, not trying to recreate marriage in other ways.

I could also argue that if you choose not to marry, then why should the benefits of marriage and its long term commitment come to you? However, as you say, marrying for the wrong reasons is not an effective basis for a relationship; therefore if your relationship works as it is, we can recognise you may register a civil partner, if you choose to do so, but still give marriage that extra status it desrves.

Chris Wells

Anonymous said...

Mu goodness Mr Wells you must have either had a huge inheritance or an extremely well paid job to bring up such a large family without state benefits!
It is refreshing to think you are totally selfsupporting and that I and other taxpayers with more modest families are not subsididing your libido and hyperfertlity!

Anonymous said...

If I choose to have lots of children, I also choose to divide what I have or earn by that same number. Its not rocket science. Its my choice and therefore my responsibility.

Chris

Anonymous said...

I have been reading this with interest, I bet we have all been paying for Mr Wells large number of children through child benefit payments, school meals, health care, education, etc. Unless of course he didn't accept what he was legally entitled to for them via our generous social security system.
Anyway it looks like those children will becomne valuable members of society so it will all come out all right in the end, but its lucky most of the rest of us don't have such large families or there really wouldn't be the resources available for them like housing, food, jobs etc.
It would soon be a very overcrowded county, like India is.
In the old days large families were needed as infant mortality was high, and adults didn't live past 40 or so on average. However things are different now and most of us have moved with the times.

Anonymous said...

I have hesitated and hesitated about responding to that last comment. Perhaps I will do so thus. The government tells us we need immigration to provide workers for many of our commercial needs. Would it not be better to provide our own young people with the skills and motivation they need to do these jobs and avoid some of the clear difficulties that stem from immigration?

In Canada, they are desperate for young families, as their families have moved so well with the times they are not having children in enough numbers to sustain the population balance in the country - a sort of Malthusian calculation in reverse. Here, it is the middle classes who are restricting their birth rate, and the disadvantaged classes who are maintaining theirs, particularly in Kent. There's an obvious problem of expectation and contribution to ponder!

Chris