The general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, and head teacher, Brian Lightman, condemned parenting today, after the riots that held London and other cities captive over the past few days. Adults took part in the disturbances as well, but it was mostly young teenagers who committed arson, looting, theft, and other crimes.
Mr. Lightman blames parents for not creating regulations at home, meaning kids will not accept them outside the home. He also included society’s consumerism and celebrity culture in the mix of dysfunction that led to the violence.
The head said that schools are often the only place where these youths are taught right from wrong or experience boundaries of any kind. He said, “Parents are not willing to say ‘no’. That short, simple word is an important part of any child’s upbringing.
“It’s desperately important that children have a sense of right and wrong. But we often come across children who have never been told that something is wrong.”
Some have blamed the school system for the problems that led to the extreme violence and brutal criminality that the capital city has experienced over the past few days. However, schools in the capital have seen improved results over the last few years, and more youth there are likely to go to university than those outside.
Mr. Lightman also highlighted the need for questions to be asked about the consumer-driven culture that appears to give the idea to today’s youth that they can become rich and famous without working. He asks what messages this sends to society.
Campaign groups have paralleled the riots with the large wealth gap in the capital between rich and poor. Youth programs, which helped kids stay in school, were stopped earlier, and James Mills, head of the Save the EMA campaign, admonishes this, saying, “”The government should not risk creating a lost generation of unqualified and unskilled young people, who feel that the government is against them and that they are not worth investing in, otherwise it only helps create such scenes.”
Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of the programme, Kids Company, another one that works with disadvantaged youth, explained that the kids who did this do not feel as if they are included in the mainstream. The heroes they create for themselves are the drug dealers and other criminals.
This has been described by James Treadwell, criminologist, as “violent materalism” and “lawless masculinity”, similar to football hooliganism. Treadwell maintains, as do all politicians, that all these excuses miss the real truth of the violence that has been occurring.
In any case, the educational system will need more power to deal with children who do not respond to authority. Parents will need to be taught how to discipline their children in the first case.