Enforcement Is Not A Long-Term Solution To Rioting

Riot

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 09/08/11 20:55 Updated: 09/10/11 11:12

Confronting the problem of youth rioting is a long-term issue, says Gavin Knight, an expert on British gang violence.

Speaking to The Huffington Post, Mr Knight, who has spent two years working in some of the UK's bleakest inner cities for his book Hood Rat, says the knee-jerk response to the riots are not the answer.

"The only real solution is to change the long-term patterns of deprivation in the impoverished areas and sink estates.

"Many of these children come from broken homes and have suffered abuse growing up.

"As such, they have never developed empathy or the soft skills of negotiating their way out of arguments. We need to break the generational cycle of violence."

Knight also questions the cost of simply reacting to violence with enforcement.

"It will cost millions to arrest and then bring all these kids to trial. Studies have shown that it’s important to get hold of them at a young age and teach them the skills they need. We need long-term investment in the early years interventions."

According to Knight, the current situation is a complex product of several different factors.

"There’s already an underbelly of violence in young people, particularly those from backgrounds of domestic violence and family breakdown. They get lured into street crime.

"The economic backdrop also plays a part with cuts to youth services and a lack of prospects.

"They are looking for excitement, which they find in rioting, whipped up by the media and social networking.

Speaking to The Huffington Post earlier this week, Demos researcher Max Wind-Cowie offered a staunch rebuttal to those ascribing the riots to race. Knight agrees.

"This is not a racial problem," he says.

"This is not a problem of ethnicity; that is just a reflection of the people living in deprived areas. In Glasgow
all the victims and perpetrators of violence are white."

"Group dynamics also play a part. I’ve spoken to these kids and one-on-one they’re very different from how they are in a group.

"Everyone knows this. You can see it in evidence from stag parties to football hooligans to the Nazis. Group dynamics can be extremely toxic. Young men will also be influenced by older men in the community. And who are there influences?"

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