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The weekly debate: Revolting Children

Jonathan Schofield gets worked up about the idea of knife scanners and what they mean

Written by . Published on January 23rd 2008.


The weekly debate: Revolting Children

For the first time in history grown-ups are afraid of kids.

The decision to push for knife scanners in tough schools – some in Manchester - is proof the world’s turned upside-down. It says that only by making prisons of our places of education can we exert some semblance of control on the bad boys. Pathetic.

Filthy talk like being tough on crime can brand you a Daily Mail reader before you can say 'global warming'. Sometimes it seems that most chattering class liberals might as well come out as Quakers.

Here’s a typical story. A Confidential associate boarded a tram this week. At Dane Road, eight lads in their late teens crashed through the doors. They were fighting and shouting, off their faces, falling all over the place, one smashed our man in the mouth with his elbow. There were mums with two and three year olds, all of them crying. A girl was shaking in terror. The fight stopped. The tram ambled down to Altrincham with four of the idiots still on. 3.30pm in Britain. Terror normalised. Violence as standard.

Here’s another story. An eleven year old child in an Old Trafford park playing football with a couple of friends. Track suited seventeen year old viciously threatens them for money, all they have is the football. The eleven year old is now afraid of going to the park. That eleven year old is my son.

Feral is a good word for these beasts. They occupy an ugly, narrow, one-dimensional world with no rules, no context and precious few consequences. None of the battling failures on the tram thought, ‘hey, there are young children here, we should stop’. They were unable to distinguish right from wrong. Clockwork Orange here we are.

Nor could they string two words together. Lads like this actively hate the notion of cleverness. At school, this lot had probably worn their academic stupidity as a badge of honour. The only words our Confidential correspondent could make out were expletives.

So where did it all go wrong?

Was it a couple of generations ago, when policy-makers and educationalists thought that by being jolly nice to kids this would make them all jolly nice back? Was it because these lovely pleasant folk confused freedom and self-expression? Was it the loosening of authority, the endless growth of 'rights', generational unemployment, victim culture, the complete deconstruction of national and local pride and identity.....You could go on forever looking for reasons.

So maybe we shouldn't bother. Maybe we should just react to the situation as it is and go beyond ASBOs. It's clear that we have to make bad kids respect adults and fear authority. We have to look at punishments and sanctions. Sharpen things up. There seems little effective middle ground between prison and a slap on the wrist. Actually a slap on the wrist's not allowed anymore. As for a rap across the knuckles - ooh you animal.

Of course this is Chorlton dinner party suicide. Filthy talk like being tough on crime can brand you a Daily Mail reader before you can say 'global warming'. Sometimes it seems that most chattering class liberals might as well come out as Quakers. Or at least conscientious objectors when it comes to looking at tougher more - forgive me - draconian solutions, to this draining low-level aimless terrorism.

Maybe bringing back the stocks might be an idea? At least the young thugs would then get their five a day. The food might be a bit off, but it'd tick the recycling box. Green corporal punishment. Organic slippers anyone?

Of course, as a broad-minded fella I should want to understand where the pain of that youth, who mugged my son, comes from. But I really don’t want to know what path turned that seventeen year old into the sort of coward who attacks children. What I want is that youth to suffer some form of sanction. I don’t want to blame the government, social workers, drugs, society, his childhood, a lack of opportunity. I want to blame him. I want to put the spotlight on him for the choice he made.

Of course, life can still be grand in Britain. Wonderful. But these teen nihilists get in the way, big time. Let's stamp down on them, hurt them, show them who's boss. What about sub-zero tolerance.

Easier said than done of course. Take decades as well. I've no idea where we start and with what specific measures. But we can begin from a position of disgust and then discuss. The idea of knife scanners in schools should make us blush. A situation where adults are afraid of a smallish number of youth savages should make us retch.

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33 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

anti socialJanuary 23rd 2008.

Or rather just the idiots who cause all the trouble....

15th century DollJanuary 23rd 2008.

Stocks... OK - but not the pillory, where the poor darlings would be at risk of buggery...Actually humiliating kids angry enough to carry weapons would just make them angry enough to wreak real havoc as per the USA. Rage, resentment and adolescence are not a good mix.

TrevorJanuary 23rd 2008.

I think you have to understand the motivation of criminals. Then you can work towards prevention rather than cure. Of course if you've personally suffered then it's easy to forget this.

Taxi TedJanuary 23rd 2008.

Well said, Matt.

sonnyJanuary 23rd 2008.

“ I think you have to understand the motivation of criminals."motivation of young sucmbags is simple, I am bored, unmotivated and violent because no matter what I do I am going to get away with it, why not! Should we be investing in creating activities for young people? Yes! should we also be heavily punishing them when they step out of line ? Definitely

RachelJanuary 23rd 2008.

Last week my boyfriend and I awoke to find four masked men had broken into our home (as brazenly as you like). They threatened us at knifepoint for my boyfriend's Golf GTi car keys. After the robbery, my initial reaction was to tell him to get a sh*t car next time; something that won't threaten our safety. But then I thought "Bollocks to that actually! What has the world come to if we can't have nice things that we have worked really f*cking hard for because we fear being robbed by thieving scumbags with zero regard for humanity?!?" I am a liberal, but it DOES make you see things from a harder angle when it happens to you personally. Sad but true. It takes that reality to make you realise just how widespread crime is in a city like Manchester. If only the 99% of us who are decent people just stood up for each other a bit more and didn't let these sh*ts get away with it again and again then that'd be a start. By that I mean intervening at risk to yourself when you see something kicking off. We all want to think that others would intervene and help if we were being attacked, but would we helps others if the tables were turned?

matt the kipperJanuary 23rd 2008.

hahahahah Tony and Ted - get back to nibbling your Tapas and talking about 'strategies' and 'interventions'.....then lets hope one dark night you step out of your warm cosy middle class tosser boxes and meet a few scrote scum face to face.....oooohh you poor wee misguided boys - how will you manage then when the only thing that will save your skin is the ability to smack em hard and deck em faster than they can do it to you......I dont read the Daily Mail BTW.....its too bloody left wing for me hohohoho!!!!!

Jonathan SchofieldJanuary 23rd 2008.

Here we go again. Listen Professor Monomaniac Rob Wrong stop the tedious obsession with Manchester. I know you love your Birmingham so much but this sort of makes me think you really have a chip on your shoulder about Brum's lack of status compared to Manchester. Listen, here's an offer, come up to the city and in my role as a tour guide I'll show you round the city. Cheer you up about the place. We'll do the city centre and then take a walk through Moss Side and Longsight and all the areas that are made to appear much worse than they are in a simplistic media. And after that you can get off this site and never come back until you only post either relevant or funny postings. And fella, see a shrink would you? Final warning.

anti socialJanuary 23rd 2008.

When they step out of line, punishment....it shouldn't be on a third, fourth or fifth crime, do it for the first one. Kids get away with far too much nowadays all becuase people know if they defend themselves, they are the ones having to pay up......I wish I could just slap the lot of them

Fed up with feeling a victimJanuary 23rd 2008.

I could go on forever about this subject. I travel to work everyday with my youngest child whose nursery is in the town centre. Twice I have had to get off the bus because of a group of "lads" (who are in fact probably in their 20s) are abusing passengers with racist lanaguage, smoking drugs and drinking. This is at 9am in the morning. Its frightening. The bus driver won't do anything and I can hardly blame him. So I get off the bus, wait for the next one and am late for work. A few years ago, two young men we're nearly kidded to death outside my house. I, again, was too scared to intervene but I banged on the window to let the psycopaths know they had been seen. They just ran up my drive and started trying to get to me. My husband was trying to unlock the door and god knows what would have happended if he had managed to do so. They could've got in and got to me or the kids, or my husband could've got out and ended up in the same state of the two boys who had been attacked. They psychos ran off in the end and as I sat outside in my pyjamas holding this poor boys brains from spilling into the gutter (and I do not exaggerate) I wonder how we have gotten to this place. No one was every caught for what turned out to be a case of mistaken identity of two brothers walking home from the pub. Its a sad, mad country we live. As far as I am concerned, we need a zero tolerance to ANY crime and decent sentences in prisons. Not ASBOS or jaunts away on youth schemes. What do victims get - sod all - so why should the perpetrators?!

AnonymousJanuary 23rd 2008.

Yep - I think that just about sums it up - and people abusing their positions in authority should face the biggest penalty if any form of respect is to be renewed

TedJanuary 23rd 2008.

It looks that way, doesn't it?

JonathanJanuary 23rd 2008.

Eddy, of course, violence is not a modern phenomenon. But this violence is different. It's, as I say, nihilistic. It's merely anti, its casual, pointless, not driven by poverty or belief or grievance. A liberal society should be defined by its freedoms - the ability to say what you want when you want. A liberal society should not be defined by its internal violence. We shouldn't accept knife scanners as a consequence of our freedoms. Freedom is bought not given. And I have no intention of leaving the inner city because it's still a fine area to bring up kids. But you'd be mentally dead if you didn't have a sense of outrage about empty-headed violence on your doorstep. And Al Mack, the point about the gun girls story was that it was a story that had happened weeks before, nobody (but a prying private surveillance operator) saw, nobody was assaulted, nobody was worried, nothing happened. That was the point there. And of course it's different to not have metal detectors and to not want to tar with the same brush the good kids with the bad. Keep reading though.

Mother but still with brain intactJanuary 23rd 2008.

So what future for society? Should we allow lawless thugs to take the upper hand and diminish the quality of our lives, for fear that people think we read the Daily Mail?What Jonathon Schofield has done is speak out and open the debate. Why should he be expected to have the answers? Collectively, however, the vast majority of decent people in this country can find some answers and make a difference.I heard somebody on the radio the other day, saying that he would love to get "our gang" of thousands of law abiding citizens together and go knocking on the doors of perpetrators of this sort of violent crime. That thought appealed enormously to me!We are stronger than them - I don't see why it is politically incorrect to show that strength.

arehlaaJanuary 23rd 2008.

Trevor - absolute tosh. I am sick to death of the lilly-livered liberal brigade trying to understand what poor lives these young thugs must lead. The bottom line is that they commit crime BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO FEAR - they are not scared of the police and know they'll get a slap on the wrist at best. Sorry to sound all Judge Dredd here but we need to create a society where people can trust ... but are damn well scared of ... the police.

Jonathan SchofieldJanuary 23rd 2008.

There’s a new initiative today which was announced after this article was posted last night. Under new guidelines from the Association of Chief Police Officers young people will be asked ‘to help develop crime policies, victims of crime will be given better support while high risk offenders will be targeted and asked to avoid developing an appetite for anti-social behaviour’. And there’s a new ‘neighbourhood policing youth tool kit’. Er…right, that should sort it. The good news is that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has her finger on the pulse. Recently she found herself at the centre of a row over the government's record on crime following a statement saying she wouldn’t feel safe walking around London at night. Then Gordon must have had a word because Smith back-tracked rapidly. And to prove how safe things are, we've now been told how she popped out and "bought a kebab in Peckham". Bless.

Freddy KreugerJanuary 23rd 2008.

I guess Freddy Jnr will have to leave his gloves at home from now on.

A Good SpankingJanuary 23rd 2008.

To start I don't read the Daily Biggot...Great, scanners at schools, what next tanks at the school gates. Responsibility & blame should be given back to parents especially those whose 11-14 year old kids are out on the streets late at night. Bring back corporal punishment (didn't do me any harm & garnered a greater respect for authority be it teachers, parents or police). Teachers should be allowed to have more say in discipline. Also how about bringing back the draft, being 'smacked' about in army training might teach these buggers some respect....

Prof Rob RightJanuary 23rd 2008.

I think this is a great idea and particularly needed given the record of violent crime to be found in Gunchester.Somthing needs to be done about you Guncunians carrying dangerous weapons!

tonyJanuary 23rd 2008.

have i stumbled across the Daily Mail online?

Eddy RheadJanuary 23rd 2008.

Its not often i disagree with you (well.......quite often actually) but i just think you are getting older and your priorities are changing. Manchester always has been and always will be a rough place and you dont have to delve too deep into the history books to find garroting gangs and knife wielding teddy boys. The haircuts have changed but the violence hasnt. Criminal and 'anti social' behaviour isnt a modern phenomenon by any means. Its the price we have to pay for a liberal society. If you want to live in one of Manchester's inner suburbs then i think you have to accept that occasionally you are going to come face to face with a frightening situation or be a victim of crime. Not saying thats right - just saying. I think you have two options - move your family to the Isle of Wight or toughen up a bit you big jessie! I appreciate that once you have children then 'toughening up' doesnt seem like a very grown up solution. But with regards living in Manchester and occasionally having to come into contact with people who perhaps dont have as much money as you or have the intellect that you do then you have to perhaps remember that its the grain of sand in the oyster that makes the pearl...........or something!

Edward ScissorhandsJanuary 23rd 2008.

First airports and now schools, I'm going to have to stay in.

TrickyJanuary 23rd 2008.

I was reading a piece in Man Con's 250 of the day on Monday, about a 20 year old man who had been shot in a takeaway in Streford at the weekend. I'm ashamed to say that the first thing I thought was "oh another gang shooting". So de sensitised am I about the violence and gun crime that exists in our City. I was moved by the story, but certainly not shocked. The following day a colleague of mine called me to give me the terrible news. The boy who had been shot was in fact a young man that worked for us last year. From memory he was a shy, hard working and unassuming lad. Not a thug and certainly not a gang member. Yet some cold blooded scumbag fatally wounded him in front of his friends, apparently without fear or thought of the consequences. Obviously I don't know what the motivation for the crime was or any of the facts; I'll leave that to Greater Manchester Police to find out. Violent crime and general lawlessness is a huge problem in Manchester and it doesn't discriminate by Postcode. Whether you live in Whalley Range or Wilmslow, it has the ability to touch you at any time. The ONLY solution is to toughen up penalties. There has got to be a certain amount of fear of the authorities in any civilization, without it you've got chaos and anarchy. Most importantly, we need a judicial system that supports the work that the police do. How many cases are thrown out by the CPS each year as being not important enough to pursue? Zero tolerance when dealing with everyone from your petty criminals, to the gun wielding gangs that are like a disease in our society, is the only way forward.

BenJanuary 23rd 2008.

Ever suffered from violent crime tony & Ted?? What is your solution? Or will you curse the darkness rather than light a candle?I would suggest that we look and see what works elsewhere but if markedly different solutions are encountered then consider the cultural element i.e. does New York respond differently, say, to Copenhagen (or wherever).At the same time as dealing with the existing yob element we need to see how to minimise a repetition in succeeding generations.I had a friend who usedd to enter her eenage son's bedroom when he repeatedly misbehaved and removed various possession ina black binbag. When matters improved items would be returned. If lazy parents were treated by the State in a similar way maybe they would do their job. If anyone thinks such ideas are harsh you are free to post your own constructive proposals. But Daily Mail jibes are unhelpful and don't advance the discussion a jot.

secret squirrelJanuary 23rd 2008.

Anonymous. The problem these days is that rarely are you in a one on one situation. It'll be you on you tod against three/four+ (possibly tooled up) pissed/drugged idiots, and they'll quite happily keep going 'till you're dead. Hardly a fair fight. Only the stupid or very brave would take on those odds and the chavs know it.

P'd off BritJanuary 23rd 2008.

Another classic example of our undemocratic government trying to fix yet another problem it has created with a sledge hammer. Who removed Teachers and Parents ability to control children in the first place? who banned competitive sports then sold off the playing fields? who turned our once proud country into a clearing bank to make the fat cats fatter? who invited over 1 million Eastern Europeans here unchecked? who took away employment options and pushed every child towards a University Education giving our non-academic children little to no prospects. The problem isn't in the schools and streets it's in Westminster!

Mack the KnifeJanuary 23rd 2008.

Guess I can't go out anymore

matt the kipperJanuary 23rd 2008.

I grew up in a council house and in my late teens to early twenties (I'm 45 now ) used to enjoy the occasional punch up. Not very PC to say it however it was a great adrenalin rush and afterwards (even if I came off worse) one always felt a hyperacute awareness of everything - it was as satisfying on a basic emotional level as climbing a high peak and watching the sunset. However this 'violence' was always between groups of lads where both sides wanted a scrap and when someone went down they were not stamped/stabbed to death. Todays evil smelling badly dressed scrotes only have a go when they are in vastly superior numbers, they go for other people who dont want to fight and they dont stop when someone goes down- they'll carry on stomping till the person is dead. Thats basically bullying to extreme - bullys never have and never will respond to 'social initiatives' and 'outreach youth workers' and such middle class left wing crap. They need hardline removal from society. Lockdown first in secure units - screen them for illness - if all ok a 9mm bullet to rear of the skull - then Heart/kidneys/liver etc removed for donation. A video of their execution sent to all their 'mates' who they hung out with and then a bill for the cost of the bullet sent to their next of kin. Its not cruel - its just practical - watch our streets become safer within 6 months. The middle class left wing tosspots who justify these scum dont live in the estates - they nibble their tapas in didsbury so dont tend to get stamped to death on an average night out.

Mayor RudiJanuary 23rd 2008.

That sounds a bit like the soft attitude that has landed us in this mess. I hear too many sob stories of "its not poor Jonnies fault, its the society I was brought up in". It seems it's all to easy today to blame your own actions on those of others - lets start from a standpoint of personal responsibility - from the yobs and their parents alike. I'm happy to hear about the motivation of criminals - whilst they are being suitably punished for their crimes. In my view I think you'll find the heavier you are at clamping down on crime, the less "motivated" people are to commit it. A key motivator at the moment is there is no deterrent because the people committing these offences know they are likely to get away with little more more than a slap on the wrists, even if they do actually get caught.

MattJanuary 23rd 2008.

The most revealing sentence in this article is this: "I've no idea where we start and with what specific measures." Why are you writing about the subject then? Any fool can have a rant about how bad it is and how wrong it is. That doesn't take any amount of brains. But, apart from going sub-Daily Mail, and recommending the stocks, where are the solutions? You dish the government for coming up with knife scanners - to most other people it seems a sensible, practical solution which deals with a situation as it is now. Not as the Daily Mail would like it to be. What is Manchester Confidential's contribution to the debate then? Just this rant? Or do you want to do something uselful - liek sponsor a series of debates? Do you, for example, want to try and get a gang of disaffected youths who have been in trouble with the law, in front of an audence of the great and the good? Maybe that would help understanding and behaviour on both sides? Or do you want to try and arrange with the courts for victims of anti-social behaviour to be able to safely confront their tormentors? That might bring home the full impact of what they have done. Or are you going to start a campaign to legalise drugs or a campaign to de-criminalise them? Both positions are perfectly valid - the media just needs to discuss them a bit more and tell the politicians. Or what about a Manchester Confidential campaign to ban alcohol sales to under-18's, with huge fines for offenders? Or what about encouraging all the restuarants and pubs and bars which advertise on your site to go alcohol free for a day - as an experiment. Or perhaps they could sponsor some community work for the aforementioned disaffected youth? Maybe you could start a Manchester Confidential Metro group which monitors incidents on trams and campaigns with both the police and transport authorities for extra security? Or perhaps you could sponsor self-defence classes for tram travellers? Some of these might work, some might not. But they are attempts to think about solutions. Jesus, there are loads of useful things you lot could do, rather than sitting there in your ivory towers throwing metaphorical stones at the problem and anyone else who is doing something practical to try and make life better for ordinary people. Why don't you DO SOMETHING?PS Perhaps we should also not forget, while we are at it, that the vast majority of young people are decent kids who cause no trouble?

Al MackJanuary 23rd 2008.

So it's ok to carry fake guns (as stated in previous J. Scho rant), but not real knives? And it's ok to be angry at these youths, but it's not acceptable to have metal detectors?Classic.

Birch em!January 23rd 2008.

Ok, so theres more and more bloodshed, violence, rape murder et al. so whats being done? and what can be done?Firstly bring back corporal punishment at home and school thats a start. Dont reward single mums with benefits! get marriage and the notion of staying together back on the agenda (start a "lads need dads" campaign!)and give the married folk the great tax breaks they once enjoyed! scrap benefits/housing for kids having kids so then their families will have to bear the responsibility not the state! then lets think about making the sentences stick, Life means life, make prisons the hellholes they should be, cramped, with bread and water not equiped with TV's and F***** gyms! then the problem may lessen. The problem also is mainly is that repeat offenders make the greedy judiciary more and more dosh by the constant churning of offenders and the judges seem to work hand in hand with the barristers and solicitors feathering each others dirty masonic nests. Morals in society and the victims rights should be paramount. Blimey, we have all the DNA testing, CCTV cameras and we still let them through the net!? We have to think is it because someones making too much money for it all to be solveable? Need i say more?

AnonymousJanuary 23rd 2008.

I work all day with the type of young people you describe , and have done for more than a decade . I have also worked in a .y.o.i { a young offenders institue ]So perhaps I am qualified to tell you that the only thing they do respect is strength . I saw one thug abuse another young person last year on a course I was running . I stopped it , at breaktime the guy who had been abused walked up to the bully and without saying a word chinned him. Then lent over and asked if he wanted more. Turns out he had boxed for manchester . So if you want an answer , it aint pretty but smack them and ask if they want more . My grandfather had received the birch as a violent young man , when asked he told me " it bloody well stopped me fighting because I didnt want another dose of that " In this PC ridden world , it will not happen but I promise you they would not come back for round two

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