Thursday, 8 September 2011

Recent Riots in England: some interesting questions

We now know that many of the rioters were young criminals, as about 75 per cent have previous convictions.

Fraser Nelson also asks:

How many of those convicted finished school?
How many were brought up in a workless household?
How many by a lone parent, how many in welfare ghettos?

It is not just about poverty, because some very poor families do not produce delinquent children or engage in anti-social behaviour.

It is not a socio-economic problem, but a moral problem.  My father-in-law grew up in South Wales where poverty was rife during the Great Depression of the 1930s but the people had high moral principles fostered by the chapel, community and trade union movement.  There was a sense of community and those who engaged in anti-social behaviour were subject to effective local sanctions.  Today we have lost that sense of close community that shaped good manners, good conduct, consideration and care for others. In good communities people pull together and help each other; there is a sense of decency, concern and care for neighbour and neighbourhood.

I have known extremely poor people and missionaries who lived on low incomes among poor people in rural and urban environments, but they never resorted to theft, looting or anti-social behaviour.  During the Second World War and during the 1950s, there happened to be very many people who certainly by today's standards would be classed as extremely poor and needy yet they lived a highly moral life and worked hard for low wages.  The children were brought up on the ten commandments, so stealing was wrong; they had a sense of accountability to God, parents, school and community.  They did not want to let any of them down.  They avoided bringing disgrace and shame.

 In some housing estates there is alienation, anonymity, anti-social attitudes, high crime levels, violence, selfishness and inconsiderate behaviour.  There is no sense of shame, responsibility or accountability.  The youth lack moral guidelines, a moral compass. They do not know right from wrong, but do what is right in their own eyes.  They have not been helped to develop a social conscience or good ethical code of conduct. We are now reaping the consequences of bad seed in bad soil.  Sunday schools once helped these young people. How many of them had any form a Sunday school education? It has been said that a child who goes through the Sunday school system rarely goes through the juvenile court and criminal justice system.

High population density may have something to do with it, because putting some people in overcrowded conditions can cause aggression. But areas of Holland and Japan which are densely populated have low crime rates.  Social deprivation may be a cause, but it is, like poverty, hard to define.

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