Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yes. Go ahead. Blame bad parenting.

Unless you've been on a desert island or hiding under a rock somewhere, you might definitely know of the London riots which rocked the UK and had stores looted, vandalised and over a thousand arrests made, and which actually took days before the rioting and the looting was brought under control. Even as I write this, a friend tells me that things are calm but on the razor's edge because of three Asian youth being run over by looters.
The youngest person arrested is eleven years old, and the oldest, I don't know. I do know that 40 somethings have also been arrested. I read an article by Zoe Williams which said that when she called a neighbour to alert her that her 14 year son was out, rioting and looting, she got a miffed response about being woken up from her sleep.
I am appalled.

As a parent, no amount of sleep is dearer to me, than knowing where my child will be at any point of day and night. Is this why David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, places the onus of the rioting and looting solely at the doors of bad parenting.
He says that politicians need to act on parenting. The lack of parenting is what has caused these kids to run amok, no one to smack them and send them to bed. I do agree. In bits and pieces. The trouble with parenting is that anyone with a womb and semen can become a parent. And in the UK, as in the USA, teenage pregnancies, single parent families, tough economies and lack of education and income are leading to dysfunctional family situations where parents are too busy to be parents. Or parents have grown up not knowing what it means to be a parent and therefore are incapable of parenting.
There are so many factors at play here, and a social fabric that is completely ripped apart with the very concept of family being completely changed from what it used to be. Parenting has slipped from being authoritarian to democratic to being completely permissive. Parents have no concept of reprimanding or controlling their children. Most of the children in these areas, I am told, (I have no concept of it, being here in good old Mumbai) hang out more with their gangs than with their family, and being gang members begins early. From the age of seven and eight. That's how old the brat is. Ruffian though he may be, the thought that he would be a gang member is downright scary. But one guesses, that is how things are there.
The complete breakdown of the family, and the lack of authority figures, and the inability of parents to be authority figures is leading these kids into a mindset where anarchy, looting and violence is acceptable. This is Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange come to life. Teens living a life of nightly orgies of violence, looting, rape, arson. Gangs, youth culture, mindless violence. A mindset where Ultra-violence is the norm. This was written back in the 1960s and Anthony Burgess could surely have been considered a visionary. Barely half a decade later, the culture he wrote about is alive and kicking.
What does parenting have to do with all this? Parents create a home where a child comes to, where a child seeks validation, where a child retreats to, where a child feels secure and safe. When children don't feel safe or wanted in their homes, because of dysfunctionality, lack of affection, sexual abuse they look to the outside. And if parents don't care enough to find out who their child has been hanging out with, why they spend more time outdoors than indoors, how they've spent their day, as long as they're out of their hair, what would you expect.
How can the concept of family be brought back into place? Maybe Cameron does have a point there, getting families integrated would solve half the problem, the other half being to get these youth and education and jobs to keep them occupied. The situation is complicated, and this is a wake up call for the UK, hope they heed it.  And no, it is not just poor parenting that caused this. Poor parenting is part of this, but it does take a village to raise a child after all.
It would be definitely interesting to see if the treatment in the novella does come to get adopted in reality.


  1. Very well written!

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  3. Very thoughtprovoking post..

  4. So wonderfully expressed, Kiran.