The BBC website headline today reading: "Shock tactics for knife carriers",
is symptiomatic alas of politicians following popular opinion
rather than leading and educating public opinion.
"Tough on Crime tough on the causes of crime" is a typical politician's
sound bite, especially at election times. Being "tough on crime" is the easy part
but analaysing what the causes of such crime might be and seeking then to
tackle such causes involves more research, imaginative thinking and time
than many UK politicians at present seem willing to undertake.
Also on the BBC recently was a radio programme on BBC radio 4, called I believe,
'Any questions'. Many experienced speakers,like Norman Tebbit, were asked to comment on the current reported prevalence of knife crime and the
ways in which society and politicians should react. One speaker was a boy
of only 13 or 14 years old. his experience seemed to trump those of his olders
and maybe not so much betters, when he commented that many using knives in fact enjoyed
the love and respect of their mums and/or dads. He said that many
parents would be horrified to learn of their boys' involvement with the knife culture. He added that many boys with knives would be really embarrassed
by their parents being made aware of their carrying them.
The suggestion was that once the police or public authorities learning
of a boy carrying a knife, hopefuly before it had been used in earnest,
they should visit the mum and/or dad to alert them to this and discuss the
risks both of injury perhaps even mortal to the son and others and
of criminal processes becoming involved. There may be some who would
not benefit from such an approach but many surely would.
Pressures on families and family breakdowns are causes of such sad behaviour
by teenagers. Supporting families to include face to face visits
by the police and other perhaps tough love action by the authorities,
could be more productive for them and Society, than simply taking
politicians' sound bite 'being tough on crime' measures are likely to be.