Friday, 12 August 2011

Rioting, Reasons and Responsibilities

The UK has recently seen several nights of rioting such as I have not seen since the early 1980s. Shops, businesses, police and family homes have been targeted by the “something for nothing” brigade who have been intent on looting and destruction. These rioters have been filmed with heads covered setting fires, taking high priced electrical goods and assaulting others. They have been a variety of ages from children to adults and I am still trying to shake the gut feeling that some of the children there may have been accompanied by a parent. I hesitate to say parents because without a doubt there will be many of these children who do not have the luxury of two parents at home.

Now  that the rioting and looting appears to be over there are no end of commentators trying to find the “causes” of such behaviour and there have been no end of reasons given from the lack of moral fibre in society to the very liberal “poor, misunderstood and marginalised youth” excuse.

Me? I think that there are many reasons but no excuses, children who grow up with no regular father or male role model in their lives but a variety of “Uncles” who come and go. This affects all children but especially boys who benefit from seeing and being able to learn appropriate behaviour from a significant male role model.

Then there are those who have not ever learned to read or write with any confidence – yes there may be a criticism of education here but it’s not difficult to get support with literacy in this day and age – hell they even provide a creche if the learner is a parent.

I cannot shake the belief that many of these rioters had no good excuses – they were there in force, it was available so they took. Yet without a doubt there are many many other individuals out there with the same difficult upbringing who did NOT take part in the looting and rioting and who ARE trying to make achievements in life.

We have a society with a sense of “entitlement”, this is not confined to the poor or any underclass but goes right through the social spectrum to the very rich who avoid their taxes and see no reason to contribute anything to society if they can avoid doing so.  Too many people know that “these are my rights” but pay no heed to the responsibilities which go with those “rights”.

I have always believed in the Welfare State being there to support those unable to support themselves financially.  In this belief I can accept that there has to be room for those who will never contribute anything and just “take” their whole lives. The key is in keeping those people who will never contribute (and I don’t include those unable to contribute due to illness/disabilities) to a minimum and supporting those who CAN work to do so.

Why then can we not have numeracy and literacy skills being part of a “welfare to work” scheme and becoming a condition of receiving benefits. Part of the responsibility a person claiming benefits should show is how they are making themselves more employable. Obviously there are those claiming benefits who ARE employable and who CAN read, write and who have enough basic numeracy skills to get by. There are far too many though who do not have these skills and unless we tackle this issue,  they will continue to be a drain on society.

Or am I wrong?

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