The Blog

The Riots - From a Child's Eye

What affect will these riots have on other children. What will it make other children see? The Riots from a Childs Eye are hard to understand... but then they are pretty difficult to understand from an adult's eye too.

I suppose I should start this post by explaining that my son and I live in a town in Shropshire. It's a big town and there are lots of cultures here and different communities and nationalities but in general we all live happily together. In certain areas there are undercurrents which can lead to issues but on a day to day basis, it's a good place to live.

My son goes to a small country school and happily goes along with his life. When we take him to cities, he sometimes feels nervous. He is a sensitive boy and if he is out of his comfort zone he doesn't like it. So recently, we have been taking him to visit cities and he has experienced inner city areas for himself. He hasn't particularly liked it, but it has taught him that there is a big world outside our life and sometimes he won't feel as comfortable as he does at home.

Last year we went to London and had a great day - did the open top bus tour and saw all the sites and he loved it. In half term, I was lucky enough to have a makeover in a lovely salon in the Strand. The photo shoot was in Hackney and when it finished , we walked to the main road to get a taxi. My son didn't like the feel of Hackney on a normal day - and even refused a Macdonalds - a sure sign he doesn't like something!

We also went to Birmingham. When we took a wrong turning after coming out of a large shopping centre, I felt his hand go into mine. Like Hackney, it wasn't a bad place - but it was different and not what we are used to and it made him nervous - but he soon settled into both environments and he wasn't worried about being there.

So when the riots started and he was watching the news, I could almost read the thoughts that were going round in his head. He had been to the places which were now being devastated by groups of youths - and although he had initially felt uncomfortable, he realised that this was simply because it was different - so to see these horrific acts of vandalism taking place, really upset him.

However, I think it is important that he should know what is happening in his country, so we watched the reports on as they came in.

He was shocked and upset to see children of his age involved in the looting. And it also made him very nervous. When he saw that the riots had spread to Birmingham which is near us, he was worried that they might come to us next and he didn't want to go to bed on his own.

He couldnt understand the devastation and destruction that these people were doing and what was worse was that I couldnt give him a reason why they felt they had to do it.

We have always taught him what is right and what is wrong. We want him to be spirited and to have fun, but also live within boundaries so that he respects people and his surroundings.

I feel sad children like mine are watching scenes like this and seeing all this destruction. I have seen demonstrations and riots in my time but this just seemed to be mindless destruction by young people in the main and it is making a huge section of the community very angry.

This morning my son came downstairs and switched on the news. More scenes of devastation. He no longer wants to visit London next week, and I bet even the promise of a New Era Cap won't persuade him to come with me on the train to Birmingham either.

Two reports of the incidents have stuck in my mind.

The first was when last night the head of the West Midlands Police Force stood in Birmingham City Centre pleading with parents to ring their children and get them home, my son just couldn't understand it. My son's view - and he is only 11 - that if they went up to the centre to cause trouble, then a phone call from their parents wouldn't get them home again.

The second was when we were watching a news report this morning and a lady witness said that "they are only children and teenagers - they don't know what they are doing!"

Sadly this seems to be the way the world is going - someone will always make an excuse for bad behaviour. I have done some work in secondary schools and I see it all the time. A child misbehaves and a parent will excuse it. Gone are the days when you are scared to go home because you know your Mum and Dad are going to tackle you about something you did wrong at school.

These days, the pupils will text or call their parents from their mobile phone in the classroom with their side of the story and before you know it , the parents are in their demanding to know why their child has been upset and defending them to the hilt - this happens in schools all over the country every day of the week.

So when pupils leave school, there is no sense of respect, no sense of responsibility. And there is always someone to give them an excuse.

There is no use pleading to parents to get their children back home - if they are in a City Centre for the sole purpose of smashing things and stealing things then my son is right - it is too late. The respect has gone and there is little chance that it will come back.

My son is horrified by what he sees and frightened by these reports because he has been taught respect from a young age. He isn't perfect - but he knows to be respectful and polite to teachers and other members of the community . He has manners and we are trying to give him a good awareness of living in a multi-cultural society and how this could affect him and how to behave in this respect.

It takes time and energy - and I can only think that those people who have been out on the streets have never had that put into them.

But I am not prepared to give them an excuse. I have come across lots of people from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds in my various jobs and in my travels and broken families, lack of money, being jobless, abuse has never meant that they live a life without respect or common decency.

And what affect will these riots have on other children. What will it make other children see? My son is shocked and frightened by it - and I think it will affect his wish to travel to the cities affected for a good while.

However, sadly, I wonder if other children will watch the news reports and be excited by it and will be out on the streets to join the others tonight.

The Riots from a Childs Eye are hard to understand... but then they are pretty difficult to understand from an adult's eye too.