Essay Question: The Youth Of the UK Are Rioting. Solutions Are Needed. Discuss.
What on earth is going on with our children? More to the point, what on earth has happened to our society that allows 14 years olds to roam the streets, smashing shop windows and stealing electronic equipment? And the biggest question of all is: what are we going to do about it?
I don’t need to tell you what’s happening on our streets right now, night after night. Turn on any news channel and its all they’re talking about. To cut a long story short many of the youth of this country are committing theft, arson and general destruction on such a scale that the police are considering measures like water cannons and rubber bullets in order to control them. Some of these kids are barely out of nappies. I’m betting most of the vandals that have terrorised the streets of the UK for the last four nights don’t do their own washing or cook their own meals … so it’s not just the kids who are ‘ill’. It’s us. We are bringing up a nation of thugs. It’s time we did something about it.
What’s the answer? Well first of all the threat of water cannons and rubber bullets may have cleared London’s streets last night, but it hasn’t solved the root of the problem – the young perpetrators are mostly still at large, and they still hold a lawless attitude. A ‘Robust approach’ is not the only answer. There will be many who call for a ‘return to traditional values’, but I don’t think we can return to anything. There is only going forward. We need to identify the reasons, and make sure that the solution is something that is relevant to the young people of today. Also, saying that the young people are bored or see no future for themselves is not a deep enough description of what is happening. There are plenty other ways to deal with boredom than to go out looting.
I think we can start to understand what is happening by looking at these three related factors:
• The Media
• What is acceptable to us as a society
• The way that we as parents and educators are raising our children
Give your eyes a good rub and take a look at what is offered to us and our children for entertainment these days. The media is awash with violence, sex, and greed. As we speak my six year old son is sitting in front of the tv watching cartoons that depict young people fighting for their survival, and to ‘save the world’. Aggression and violence is always the answer in these cartoons. If there is any intelligence or problem solving involved it’s very much a ‘side serving’ rather than the main dish. Most of the computer games you can buy today, and which our young immerse themselves in, are similarly violent. Sex has become a currency for selling anything, and is portrayed as something that needs no boundaries, something that anyone can do for fun. Don’t we have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the world? Are we alright with that?
And as for greed, isn’t it all about stuff, stuff, stuff these days? What you have defines who you are in our society. TV shows one ad after another for more and more toys, more and more ‘bling’ and during the actual programmes makes it clear that if you want to be in with these guys you have to have these things. You have to be made up, you’ve got to be dressed right, and in a sexually appealing fashion. Recently there was a fuss in the media about our music videos being too sexually explicit, and if we’re honest that’s not the only problem. The language is very explicit, and the actual messages portrayed by the music are often those of lawlessness, promiscuity and greed.
But before we blame the media for society’s ills we need to stop and take a look at society itself. Because all the media does is reflect back to us what we as a society are. The media is giving us what we ask for, because that is what pays. So the media is a very accurate measure of what is going on in society itself. If you take a look at our media channels you begin to realise that we as a society therefore allow greed, violence and aggression, promiscuity and bad language. These things have become the norm for us. Children will push the boundaries, it’s one of the things they do best, and look at the boundaries they’re pushing! Is it any wonder that so many of our young think these things are ok? After all these are the messages we are giving them , or at least allowing them to absorb. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves! As any parent will know, your children often force you to reassess the way you approach life, and our kids are currently doing this on a national scale. We need to wake up!
So we approach the third point. How are we raising our children? Well aside from giving them a raft of deeply twisted messages about what is right and normal in our world today, our actual methods of parenting and teaching need looking at. Most of today’s parents are so busy making a living that we’re not giving our kids the attention they need. I have 3 children of my own, I know this isn’t easy. Today’s life is fast, it’s not always simple, and we have to keep up to keep our families afloat. But this means we are too tired and stretched to actually raise our kids. So they’re raising themselves or being raised by the TV and their peers – and look where that has lead! Even when we do find time for our kids, we don’t seem to know what to do to manage them. We turn to the ways we were brought up, and let’s be fair, justice was often meted out fairly aggressively, even if it was just how we were spoken to. ‘Clear up your room or you don’t go out.’ ‘Do your homework or no TV.’. And so sometimes if we’re a little enlightened we’ll say to ourselves ‘I don’t want to be an aggressive parent, I want to be a nice one’, so what are we replacing aggression with? Permissiveness! Now everything is alright. Kids can do whatever they like if they just push hard enough. ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ has somehow become ‘kids know best’. They don’t. They’re kids. They need us to bring them up, that’s what we’re for. If we as parents and teachers don’t take charge and teach them right from wrong, who is going to?
So now on to solutions. First, we need to heal our own attitudes and thus heal our media. The society we have created and continue to create is patently not working. When the children rise up and start the process of self destruction that has got to be a potent message for us that we’re doing something badly wrong. We need to reassess our basic societal values. How much stuff do we actually need? Is the over sexualisation of everything really acceptable to us? Is aggression really the answer to everything? Is permissiveness the answer? Is the way we habitually speak and the language that has come to be regarded as normal actually alright with us?
Come on and take a stand. None of these things are acceptable. You don’t have to be religious, or ‘a prude’ or ‘old fashioned’ to realise that the way we are living is NOT WORKING. We need to clean up our act, and demonstrate better values to our kids. We need higher ideals. We need better ways of dealing with adversity. Let’s bring in gratitude for what we have. Let’s bring in a focus on the beautiful things in life and on inner beauty. Let’s bring in working together to make things better. Let’s bring in assertiveness and an intelligent approach to replace aggressiveness or passiveness in our dealings with our world and in our parenting. Our rioting children are doing us a big favour. They are giving us a wake up call that we ignore at our peril. We need to change as a society and we need to do it now, for the sake of our future. We owe it to our kids.
Posted on August 10, 2011, in Difficult Times, London Riots, todays youth, UK Riots, Uncategorized and tagged London riots, parenting, society, todays youth, UK riots. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.