Tuesday, 9 August 2011

What are you telling your children about the riots?

I have spent the last 24 hours watching the new on a loop.  I grew up in Clapham (around the corner from Lavander Hill)  then moved to Surrey, not a million miles away from Croydon and certainly close enough to spend many a drunken night at the local haunts with friends.   Every Saturday as a teenage I used to go to Syliva Young Theatre School and part of my journey was spent waiting for a bus at Reeves Corner.  Indeed, many a night was spent waiting outside the taxi rank at Reeves Corner waiting to go home.  We socialise in the many bars and restaurants on Lavander Hill and I have had my hair cut in Headmasters.  BoBo's godmother lives in Lavander Sweep at the top of the Hill.  The rioting that was going on last night was local to me, It was in "my" part of London and as the drama unfolded, so to did my anger and disgust.

Who are these people?  Why are they attacking their own communities? 

This is the underbelly of society, the "Jeremy Kyle" generation raised on a diet of junk and "Grand Theft Auto".   The youngest arrest so far is 10 years old.  10 YEARS OLD- that is 2 years older than my Beansy.  What I have seen has shocked me - A shopkeeper in Hackney weeping as he laid wet towels around his shopfront, A mother jumping from her burning house in Croydon not to mention 5 generations worth of pure hard graft for the Reeves family whose furniture store so tragically burnt down in Croydon.  I have seen footage of a bleeding youth, helped to his feet by a "kindly" youth who then goes on to MUG HIM in broad daylight.  I have seen numerous cars and vans on fire, I have seen policemen attacked and cars overturned. 

The majority of the people I see acting like this are young, this is no organised "gang" crime, this is young people who are trying their luck for a bit of "fun".   An opportunity to blag some new trainers or mobile phone.  This is their ENTERTAINMENT.  They don't care about what they are doing, who they are hurting.  There are no consequences for their actions.

I am appalled.  I am angry and I am sad.

My children for the first time are aware that "something" is going on.  They have seen news reports and newspapers and they are asking questions.

Why are they doing that mummy?
I thought the police were goodies?
What happened to that lady?
Why are they stealing?
Why aren't the police stopping them?
What will happen to the things they are stealing?
What will their parents say when they bring the things home?
Why doesn't their mummy tell them off?
Why do they want to hurt people?
When will it stop?

I am no politician or sociologist.  I have my views and opinions but to be quite frank, I am not going to air them to my children. So, the answer is, I can't answer my children's questions. 

Can you?

8 comments:

  1. Wish I could answer the questions. I'm so angry, but also so sad that stealing can be considered fun. How bored/disaffected/frustrated can a teen be to consider burning someone's livelihood down 'fun'?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why are they doing that mummy?
    'I don't know. Why do you think?/ Sometimes we do naughty things because we are cross, sometimes we think it's fun and we forget that it upsets other people.'

    I thought the police were goodies?
    'Everybody does things wrong sometimes. The police work very hard at keeping us safe but we all make mistakes sometimes.'

    What happened to that lady?
    (I don't know what this refers to, the lady out of the house?)'I don't know darling, I think her house was on fire so she had to jump. It looks like he caught her. That's good isn't it?'

    Why are they stealing?
    See above 'naughty things'. 'It's horrible, isn't it? Makes me sad.'

    Why aren't the police stopping them?
    'They are but they don't want anyone to get hurt so they are mostly hoping to tell them off later. There are lots of people so it's quite tricky!'

    What will happen to the things they are stealing?
    'Don't know. Think the police will make them give them back. What do you think?'

    What will their parents say when they bring the things home?
    'What do you think I would say?!!!'

    Why doesn't their mummy tell them off?
    'Maybe they will later.'

    Why do they want to hurt people?
    'I don't think they want to hurt people, they are just cross - like you know when you push your brother cos you are cross with him.'

    When will it stop?
    'Don't know - soon I hope. You don't have to worry. It is sad isn't it? But we will keep you safe.'

    Any good? Newsround is good for child-friendly explanations. Think you have to acknowledge feelings around the events.
    @eskacy

    ReplyDelete
  3. Can you please move into my house?!

    AMAZING answers. I am SO going to use those.

    Thank you for taking the time to write such an epic reply!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have just been trying to answer JJ's questions in the most straight forward way I can. Offering the facts I know and giving my opinion. I have tended to ask him a lot of questions back so he answers his own really and that si workign well.

    The world has gone crazy!

    Mich x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi friend you have a nice blog can you please add my blog link to your blogroll thank you

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great answers.

    I have taken the easy way out and avoided the news while our children are in the room - which we tend to do anyway.

    We are further away so not so exposed to the rolling newsreels all day, and during the day the TV is not often on "adult" programmes.

    Telling them the truth is the only way, packaged so as not to be frightening and, as @eskacy suggests asking the children what they think.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I went with just being as open as possible, which including being honest as to not knowing the answers to who and why. My kids are 17 (my niece who lives with us), 11, 5 and 9 months old, as I have older children I guess I may have been more frank than had mine all been a lot younger.

    Why are they doing that mummy?
    Can't remember specifics but we discussed how the riots initially started and issues around the shooting of Mark Duggan and then how things spiraled from there. As for the who and the why, well I said my speculations would be that some people felt aggrieved about the Mark Duggan, some people felt aggrieved about society/their social and economic status, some people were opportunists of the worse kind, some people were arsonists, some people were involved in crime and that was their life and that there were other reasons but I don't know as there is no one single reason as to why this happened, the matter is complex. We went on to discuss why some people chose crime and what the effects are for other people.

    What I found interesting with firstly my kids' empathy with the awful situation that many people found themselves in being caught up in the middle of unbelievably scary riot, seeing their homes and business razed. It sparked further discussion as to what happens after, the initial devastating aftermath and finding the strength to rebuild. Secondly it sparked discussion as to why crime happens and how how fortunate we are to have a happy supportive family, good education, money, opportunities to participate in sports/music/art etc. It was a lightbulb moment for my 11, a realisation that other people experience a very different social and economic upbring to his own.

    I thought the police were goodies?
    This didn't come up in our house, but I guess I would answer along the lines of the police do their best to help everyone. It's not an easy job especially under the extremely unusual circumstances of Monday night.

    What happened to that lady?
    Is this the lady jumping from the fire? We discussed about how quickly fire spread, my 5 year old was really incredulous at how quickly smoke spread and its effects. We also discussed the need to exit quickly and how awful it would be to lose all your possessions. I think there was actually a benefit in my kids thinking about this from a fire safety point of view as well as having empathy for those who lost everything.

    Why are they stealing?
    I think I covered this under 'Why are they doing that Mummy?'

    Why aren't the police stopping them?
    We talked about how difficult it was for the police in terms of sheer numbers of rioters and looters. It gave my 5 year old a bit more of an understanding of how police catch criminal rather than it being like the cartoons or movies, that in real life the police can't always just cuff and arrest the criminal.

    What will happen to the things they are stealing?
    This didn't come up, not sure what I would answer, I suppose those who aren't caught with sell it on or use the stolen good?

    What will their parents say when they bring the things home? Why doesn't their mummy tell them off?
    This didn't come up either, but I would of answered along the lines of some parents wouldn't care as not everyone has parents who teach their children right from wrong. Some parent would be horrified at their child's behaviour and some parents wouldn't know because they aren't involved in what their children are doing.

    Why do they want to hurt people?
    Much as above, but with the addition of discussing how it feels to be hurt by others.

    When will it stop?
    I don't know, but my instinct is that the worse has passed. The police are out in huge numbers as they want to do all they can to protect everyone, it also means that the huge numbers of opportunist looters would be deterred. I think the bigger question is what happens now and what questions we should be asking and what we do to learn from this so we can avoid further dreadful events.

    ReplyDelete
  8. the world is going mental...is all i can say. we are protected from it over here, as we have no tv (that works) and alex and i read about it on the internet. so the kids, we did actually tell them, as we tried to demonstate how 'not to grow up'...!! it's a difficult one, we never know how much to protect/expose our kids from...we ended up telling them as they ask so many questions when we talk about it,which we have been doing...

    loads of love to you guys xxxxx from us lot xxxx

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...