Stab In The Dark

July 15, 2008 at 8:17 am Leave a comment

knife

All the news is depressing at the moment. Mind you, you wouldn’t think that we are busy fighting two major wars at the moment – Iraq and Afghanistan hardly get any coverage. They do not seem to be as important as Traffic Cameras in Swindon and holiday jobs for students! But, every news bulletin seems to include a piece on the imminent recession and the fact that we are all likely to be found dead on our doorsteps, murdered by some knife-wielding, maniacal twelve year old.

As I write, my friend Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, is busily backing down and performing u-turns and somersaults on the subject of knife crime initiatives. And there is much talk about extending the right to search of teachers to include searching for weapons, drugs, and alcohol. What has the world come to? In my day we would have jumped to comply with an “Empty your pockets, boy!” bellow from a domineering teacher. Mind you, in my day, all you were likely to find in a teenage boy’s school trouser pockets were a snot-soaked hankie, a comb (metal ones with a sharp handle could be considered a weapon!), a pack of Top Trumps Cards, and illicit sweets or chewing gum (both of which were banned inside of school). And, of course, cigarettes. Cigarettes were schoolboy currency. You “collected” cigarettes even if you did not smoke yourself.

That is not to say that the problems with teenage kids so evident today did not exist twenty or thirty years ago. Kids smoked – the local shops around my school would sell cigarettes in singles to make them more affordable. Kids drank – not out of bottles of cheap cider on street corners, but, in pubs with a relaxed attitude to underage drinking (as long as you took your school blazer and tie off you were in). Kids had sex. Kids stole. Kids fought. And, kids carried knives. While I choose not to implicate myself in any of these various crimes and misdemeanours – my dad reads these posts, occasionally. I was personally impacted by schoolboy knife crime back in 1983 when a 13 year old bully was stabbed through the heart by a 12 year old victim and died in my arms. See my earlier post.

Indeed, I understand that 80% of kids who carry knives do so out of a belief that they need to defend themselves. A belief driven by a fear of bullying, mugging and gangs. Well, I hope my personal experience shows the foolishness of carrying a knife to deter a bully. From victim to killer in a single motion.

In reality, only 16% of kids admit to carrying a knife because of an involvement in criminal activity such as mugging and gang-related crime.

But, some of the initiatives that the Government and others are touting around to tackle the problem are just non-starters. Parenting classes? Many of these kids are born into single-parent families to pramface mothers who have dropped out of education. Jail? We would have to scrap all greenbelt initiatives to build all of the jails that would be needed. Awareness? Do we really think that these kids are going to be deterred by meeting convicts and victims? These are kids that are largely excluded from “adult” or “normal” society. They have few positive role models (unless you include Jeremy Kyle – which I do not). They do not read newspapers or watch the news. They live a You Tube, Facebook or Bebo existence. They live on street corners and in bus shelters. They have welcomed our politically correct world and become mini-lawyers aware of their rights (but seemingly not their wrongs).

So what can be done? Well I am all in favour of Alf Hitchcock’s (the so-called Knife Tsar) for a form of National Service. Schools should be able to ban and confiscate those things which may encourage muggings such as mobile phones, MP3s, and designer goods. Schools should revert to strict school uniform rules which would eliminate gang paraphernalia. Parents and teachers should be able to use reasonable punishment to clamp down on bad behaviour, including the cane or a slap round the back of the legs. Put metal detectors on school doors and into the hands of the police. For those that get caught carrying knives, give them hard community service – cleaning the streets and sewers and the like. Lock up those that use the weapon. Remove the privileges and benefits for the families of repeat offenders – take their council house, housing benefit and unemployment benefit away until they and their offspring comply with a strict social contract.

Take away temptation, impose real and meaningful deterrents and punishment. And, make Jeremy Clarkson Prime Minister………

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Entry filed under: childhood memories, Politics, rant. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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