With the numbers of people in the country being killed or injured by the use of knives, the politicians and other prominent public figures come out and publicly portray the concerns of the nation at these worrying events. For the families and friends of those killed or injured, they also become victims, not of the knife wielding offender, but at the hospitalisation or even worse, at the loss of a family member or close personal friend.
The same old questions seem to ride out on horseback from the collective media or other social commentators dug up to offer their own form of specific expert view that covers their analysis of why these horrid events have occurred.
Exactly who is to blame?
This is always one of the first in a news driven society that often forms pre-judgemental answers in less time it takes to boil an egg. This makes a temporary change from the norm where you can learn what is happening, at great cost, in the nether regions of the globe but you don’t know what is going on in the next street.
The blame lies firmly at the feet of those who bear the weapons of this destruction. The knife carriers and gun carriers, those who see the wrong sort of sense in carrying a knife for themselves or for the use of others. Those who shield them and cover for them carry some of the burden of responsibility.
There will always be another attachment of blame, with claims of Government inaction, sentencing guidelines that fail to lock up offenders, the Police for not arresting the offender, the probation and associate groups for championing various policies or action that is perceived, by some, not to give serious enough regard to the people who see no wrong in the carrying of weapons.
You will not have to look back very far to see the same worrying comparisons at the rise in gun killings amongst the shooting culture that has taken a back seat to the perception of this knife related phenomenon.
The guns have not gone away, the number of firearms related incidents continue and testify to this. They have been temporarily overshadowed by the horrific increase in knife related killings. As something else rears its head the spectre of knife crime will settle down and become old news. Something else deemed to be more shocking and reportable will take its place amongst the headlines where old news is not good news anymore.
Amongst all of the finger pointing and accusations of betrayal or non-action, the breakdown in the family unit and social group changes get a mention but are not as much of a finger pointing priority as the other organisations who seem to be attributed with most of the fault, some of it correctly and some of it not.
Working with animals, as I do, I constantly draw comparisons with the evolution of things. As a result, it is no surprise when I look back at my own life experiences and see how things have changed with us humans, mostly for the worse.
True, we have enormous technological advancements, we even have put people on the moon, but how has this benefited our survival and evolution as a species?
Well it hasn’t. We have moved on from having to survive in the big wide world. We have moved on from having to get shelter, food and warmth as priorities and then spend the rest of our time seeking out a mate to continue our line. The most important thing was the survival of the group, us being a social group and that. Boundaries were set to establish the survival of the group. Rules were made that increased the chances of survival and social behaviour activities reflected this. The need to survive taught us skills that enabled our survival and we traded in our territory for a house. We replaced its boundaries with hedges and walls, we lost the skills to hunt or grow food. We lost the skills to survive by essential means and replaced the time these things took with acquisition of things to make our lives easier and to justify our perceived successes. We have replaced the things we needed to survive and get by on with visible signs that we are successful and trendy, the latest gadgets and gizmos, the latest name in clothing and footwear. If we can’t earn it, all to often we resort to stealing it as an easy and cheaper alternative. As a species our intellect has allowed us to be resourceful in more ways than one.
As a unit, or a social group, we disbanded and spread ourselves further away from our families to show our Independence from each other and lost the behavioural necessities that accompanied any successful survival. Some may say we have adapted, in fact we have. But we have adapted because the agreed principals of behaviour control have been lost by the families and social groups that are the first and most important line in any long term successful social development.
You only have to watch a wildlife documentary to see the social rules being played out, all for the successful development and survival of the group. You will see rules enforced, accepted behaviour levels and strict punishment for those who cross the line. You will also see groups of immature and adolescents teasing and bullying the easy victims within safe boundaries. They don’t need copious amounts of alcohol or to possess knives or guns to do this. They set out basic survival needs to achieve the successful development of their social group.
They will have battles with neighbouring groups who stray onto their territory. They will chase off intruders. They will have the posturing and bravado from the adolescent males that the older and higher ranking of the group will put down with as much force as is needed to do so. Anyone who is too big for their boots will be driven out or will take over. The adolescents learn what is acceptable behaviour from their elders. If they are not taught it, they have no boundaries. The pushing of the boundaries of what is acceptable needs be reinforced over and again so that the rules are understand. To fail to do this is to fail to teach that an action that is breaches the rules comes with unpleasant reaction. If an adult shows no regard for other people, other people’s property and the value of another person’s life then this will be mirrored by the juvenile or adolescent. This will be reinforced through role play and peer pressure when the major influences move temporarily from the family to the adolescent group that allows for role playing at being an adult, or in their eyes how they see it, but without the other pressures and responsibilities that go with it. They can be like all the bad guys in the films and on the TV but without all the bad consequences. What appears important is not what comes from the parents and family but what their circle of friends think and how they behave.
We, as humans, the most intelligent and resourceful of animals on the planet, have advanced so far and created so much in a relatively short time, but risk more damage than just about everything else collectively put together. We have replaced what we need to survive with what we believe we need to justify something to ourselves, to prove some inadequate or unnecessary goal and acquire some form of social status to make us feel important to ourselves and our peers firstly and our families secondly.
As parents, there has been in some areas, an erosion of the responsibility for the behaviour and attitudes of children. Standards of respect and general behaviour standards have declined. All too often there is a shocking lack of interest in what their children are up to and a failure to take responsibility for them when they stray from the path of decent and respectful behaviour. As parents there is a lacking in understand all too often that if the rules are not set out clearly on a regular basis then there will be problems later on. Not to be violent, rude or abusive and not to steal someone else’s property were the mainstay of development.
As Schools, who had the tradition of supporting parents with basic rights from wrongs added to the everyday development of delivering education to the masses, the emphasis on targets and a lack of any meaningful discipline adds to the lack of responsibility for their actions far too many young people have. Children were taught not to be violent, not to steal and not to be rude. This backed up what was going on in the home. there were punishments to support these aims but not any more.
As Governments, there has been a decline in the aims of successive Governments with an ignorance of what should be a priority within the home boundaries being lost on scoring points to another political agenda. How any Government can prioritise abroad when it fails to sort out its own domestic front is beyond me.
As Police, a service or a Force, we have replaced the time we took dealing with victims in a sympathetic and compassionate way and our investigation of even the most minor crimes with a system where a one sided view of good and effective management of time and resources are the order of the day. What was seen as a duty to do, to investigate crime, is not seen in the same way as it was. By investigating even the minor crime a message was sent out that offences were investigated, even with no prosecution. After all, we are the Police. This is part of what we did. Detections were important but not the business like, slide rule indicator of how efficiently the measure of performance is calculated. The priorities are to a whole range of things that have added a bureaucratic and statistical nightmare to our already overladen work daily list of things to do. We simply do not give people time because the burden of the workload does not allow for it. It does not take some elements of society long to work this out, from the hooded hoards to the courts where staffing levels and workloads are all too often an incompatible union. The Police officer on the beat, in the community, working a shift pattern covering all 24 hours of the day has been seen to be a waste of manpower and resources. The audit commission saw to that in the 1980’s. Funny how it has been back in vogue as part of the neighbourhood Policing philosophy lauded at promotion and selection boards across the land.
The traditional three areas of discipline, family, schools and the Police appear to have lost the battle in all too many cases. Cases where the children of those who have little or no respect for others grow up to be just as lawless as their parents in many cases. Cases where families put the blame on everyone else but themselves when things go wrong and refuse to see any wrong doing. Cases where one area of society blames another for its shortcomings.
A CCTV operator, a passing Police officer or teacher cannot take someone who is behaving badly home and send them straight to their bedroom as a punishment for doing something wrong. There are areas of parental responsibility that have been conveniently forgotten by some parents because it is easier to do so. Subsequently it also easier to be in total denial of what their children get up to. They children are not there so it somehow not their problem. To deny there is a problem prevents you having to admit that you have somehow failed.
One minute the asbo stormtroopers of the Britannia Estate who have no responsibility for their actions, wreaking havoc on those who offer dissent are transformed into children who know no better because they have not had sufficient grounding in the rules of acceptible behaviour. What they haven’t got the skills and courage to do by themselves they simply add a few of their mates to get done, just to prove a point to someone. After all, they are adults. When it all goes a bit wobbly and they get caught, or sometimes even worse, they are just children who mean no wrong or didn’t mean for things to happen that way. Nothing could be further from the truth. I forgot, they have rights as well. Everyone has a duty towards upholding and complying with these rights but they have no responsibility for their own duty of social behaviour.
The illusion is created that no-one, and I mean no-one, seems to want to do anything positive about the state that behaviour of a minority has deteriorated over many years. From the binge drinking inebriates to the young people who think that they are hard and have respect because they carry a gun or a knife, those who believe that threats and intimidation are acceptable means of getting their way, shows a disappointing slide into a chaos that will continue to bring misery to far too many people because society turns its back and expects someone else to do the dirty work on their behalf. Things have to change, but I fear that for all the talk, it will be a futile effort.
It seems that some people take responsibility for their actions. Others do not take the same responsibility and little or no effort is made to correct this.
Luckily there are still a vast majority of parents who bring up their families within reasonable boundaries, with reasonable levels of respect and behaviour.
Sadly there are families who do not have the same sense of duty and responsibility as the majority. These families have come from families who have had a variety of social, welfare and criminal backgrounds. They continue to instill similar values in their own children, these children have children and so on. The nanny state cannot instill the type of consideration and respect for others as well as the basics of right and wrong that parents could and indeed should be doing. By the time these children are 14, 15 or 16 it is too late, in most cases, to change how they learnt their rules for life. Normal acceptible rules of conduct, behaviour and attitude play little part in their world. Soemhow they, too, are made out to be victims.
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