Wednesday, February 14, 2007

UN Youth Report "Sad but Unsurprising" - Gale

More British youth have had sex, taken drugs, been in fights or fallen-over drunk then anywhere else in the developed world. MP Roger Gale is as worried as anyone, describing as "sad but unsurprising" the findings of a United Nations report on the conditions and circumstances of young people.

The MP, the chairman of the TryAngle Awards Foundation which celebrates the achievements of young people, said:

"Every year, in a programme that is now rolling out nationwide, we applaud and recognise the good things that are achieved by the young people of Kent and beyond. And every year our judges read through harrowing tales of the difficult circumstances that have to be overcome by some of those young people. The work of young carers, particularly, needs to be better recognised.

Young people are entitled to a childhood and an adolescence but far too many find themselves having to grow up and to face challenges and even parenthood that ought, properly, to be the work of mature adults.

Every Member of Parliament deals regularly with what are, essential, social work cases of poor housing, poverty and, most particularly, neglect and it is the latter that is more serious and more damaging than the former.

Arguably, most people are materially better off and better housed than they have been for generations, even at the bottom end of the scale. But the breakdown of the extended family unit, the latch-key approach to life taken by working parents and a lack of recognised and enforced social boundaries have led inevitably to a generation that are significantly and through no real fault of their own aimless and rudderless.

Those working with young people continually hear the cry, in defence of anti-social behaviour, that "there's nothing for us to do". In fact, there is a wealth of opportunity but without care, affection, respect and direction we should not be surprised that young people resort to drink and drugs and petty crime.

In our work as MPs we see young people passed from pillar to post, unwanted and unloved and regarded mainly as a source of enhanced allowances and benefit.

If we want to get to the root of what is certainly a very real problem then some "politically correct" attitudes are going to have to go out of the window and we are going to have to work - all of us - to get back to some clear boundaries and to some responsibilities as well as "rights". And all of us does mean all of us: this is not something that can just be left to "them" - the police, social workers and teachers. We are responsible for our children and our grandchildren and we must all be held responsible for their care."


Anonymous said...

It has been interesting to see Labour Minsters and the political appointee, the Commissioner for Children, trying to wriggle out of acceptance of responsibility for the failure of policies of 10 years in office. They cannot see that the State directed and PC funded top-down model is utterly ineffective. Your item last week on KCCs application form for Youth Funding highlights the PC mad Britain that Government policy has created.
Support the two parent family model; restore respect throughout society for the 'law' by enforcing the law by effective policing; restore discipline in schools; fund our local authorities to maintain children's facilities rather than close them down or sell them off; talk less of children's rights and more about responsibility and maybe just maybe we might start to see improvement. I am ashamed that a Labour Goverment of all Governments we have had, has made the lower end of our society more dependant on the state by allowing a low wage economy to exist in the 5th richest nation. The stable family unit with a parent at home with the working parent able to support the family on his or her wage used to be a feature of our society; it is no longer.

After spending 10 years undermining the fabric of our society it is fitting that Blair's Heritage will be a damning UNICEF report.

Nethercourt said...

Here-here! No rights without responsibilities. Benefit should be regarded as reward not a right. I bet some parental interest would soon be stimulated if the freebies stopped as part of punishment.
Should start the 'bleeding hearts' off though.

Cllr David Green said...

The reason our children’s lives are the worst amongst economically advanced countries is because we are a poor version of the USA. We copy their labour market flexibility, their love of the free market, their worship of business leaders but have none of the natural resources they are blessed with. So the USA comes second from bottom and we follow behind. At the top are the nations who prepared to tax, regulate and create the conditions for a strong society and so get the best of all worlds – a strong economy and increased wellbeing.

In Britain things will simply get worse unless we change direction. We have got the easiest to reach children out of poverty – the hard to reach ones are next. That requires even more resource. It cannot be done by stealth. The public must be won over to policies that will turn the tide. This demands debate and discussion. The age of neo-liberalism, even with the human face that New Labour has given it, cannot stem the tide of the social recession capitalism always creates – unless it is properly regulated. Too often the British political response is to crack down on children. To be tough on crime and forget the causes. We demand respect from children and give them an ASBO if they refuse. A free market always requires a strong state. But this report shows that respect is a two way issue. Does our society respect childhood?
It’s going to take a lot more than just a renewed Labour Party to get our children out of the mess they are in. It takes an ideology that says greater equality is necessary to give these children a chance and new institutions are needed, building on the likes of Sure Start, where people in their own communities are empowered to help each other out of poverty. And it will take a leadership willing to stand up and say it is a moral outrage that in a rich nation so many children’s lives start so badly and get no better. When £9billion is shared out in City bonuses, with some getting £50 billion we can act – but only if politicians are prepared to be brave. Rupert Murdock won’t like it, neither will the CBI or the Daily Mail. But there is a majority of progressive people and institutions who will be shocked by this report.

Ten years on from the victory in 1997 much good workn has been done, now is the time to ensure that society is the master of the market not its servant, because that way lies , as the Children’s Commissioner has now said “A crises at the heart of our society”.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, Cllr Green, you still adhere to the idea that state sponsorship will 'empower' people?
Sure Start is a costly state initiative (top down driven) to employ a whole host of dubious posts at taxpayers expense e.g. the Millmead Allotments Officer! When is a Labour Government going to lift the bottom end of our society out of poverty by not taxing them before they have even paid for life's essentials? There is no inequality in our society other than the inequality of aspiration and a state dependant lower class has no aspiration and it appears to me that the Labour Government is happy to have it that way despite its posturing. It has had 10 years and all we can see is the ever widening gap between the very poor and the rich. I no longer call mysel a labour man because I am so disgusted with a Government that has done so little for the bottom end of society. You talk about fat cat bonuses, what nests are your Labour Leaders feathering for goodness sake? They have been so busy sticking snouts in the trough themselves that they are indistinguishable from the fat cats you denigrate; at least the city bonuses have been won by making Britain the major financial earner in the world of finance! Stop your own posturing and get real.

Cllr David Green said...

The point anonymous above and Mr Nasty have conveniently missed is that these figures are at least 6 years old and are the result of precisely the policies followed by the previous government. By then, Labour had had 4 years to put things right. In my opinion it didnt act quickly enough, but pledges were made in the lead up to the election to stick to the Tory spending plans.

Anonymous said...

Oh come come come come, Cllr Green.! We had the lie in the 60s of " 13 years of Tory mis-rule" do you really think that you Labour reps can carry on claiming the problem is the previous administration's problem after 10 years in office! The great British public doesn't believe such tosh any more and when are you lot going to realise that? The gap between rich and poor has widened under your lot and Brown's tax policies hit the worst off in our country. Is this what we expected from a Labour Government? No! So, the data is out of date from UNICEF and your lot have managed some real improvements, really? Kids being gunned down in London by threes and a taxi-driver robbed at knifepoint in Millmead? This is progress by Labour's book is it? Sorry, the reality today is not what most of us in 1997 expected and our wrath will be expresssed at the ballot box in due course; there is nothing worse than those whose ideals have been shattered by the party in which they had so much hope. You lot have become that which we thought we would never see; a party without principle or shame but full of whining apologists.

Lewis Dennis said...

I believe that it is a question of morals. Many Children in this country today are not brought up with a sense of right or wrong. There is nobody telling them that going out on a Friday or Saturday night drinking and fighting (which happens every friday night in Broadstairs involving children from all over thanet) is wrong. They see it as "cool" or "trendy" they gain respect from their peers and many of the children's parents have no idea that this is happening. It is a youth culture that has risen from a lack of direction from above. I beleive that schools, parents, families and communities all have the responsibilty to teach children that drugs, drink and fighting are not OK. I completely back Cameron's remarks today about promoting a "culture of responsibility and respecting authority". Children are allowed to get away with events, they need to be told that what they are doing is not acceptable.

Anonymous said...

The really sad thing Lewis is that our youngsters do not pay the penalty until it is extreme.

The recent inquest into 5 youngster's deaths in Hastings last summer was interesting. BBC South East was making a big issue about a police sgt chasing the stolen car and the inference was that the police-man caused their deaths. I was sickened by this coverage. The police-man responded to an elderly man on a bike being reported as having been run over by the car which did not stop. The 5 youngsters were high on alcohol and drugs and all knew the car was stolen. However, most of them had some previous but quite clearly regarded themselves as above the law. It was their decision to take the course of action they followed and quite frankly I have no tears to shed for them at all. BBC South East highlighted how 'disgusted' some relatives of the children were when the coroner found that the children were responsible for their own demise and the police sgt was exonerated from any involvement in their deaths. I bet they were disgusted as that meant an opportunity to sue Sussex Police and Sussex Ratepayers having to cough up millions in compensation had gone out of the window! Maybe, just maybe, if we had corporal punishment in school and effective harsh punishment for juveniles going off the rails , these 5 young people would still be alive.

Anonymous said...

I agree totally with this comment above, However if anyone saw the individual they (BBC reporter John young?) interviewed and broadcast after the coroners report could of seen in a nut shell what is going so wrong with this country, despite all the points as noted in the above post, stolen car, drink and drugs etc this interviewee thought it all the fault of the police "old bill mate, naaaa what im saying, there fault init". It would be great if they could follow up on that individual and ask him to explain exstactly why it was the polices fault. This has been discussed by a wide section of people i have spoken too who saw that BBC report.