Sunday, July 19, 2009


I watched the first episode of John Ware’s “Death of Respect” programme on BBC iPlayer last night. In it, he asks what has happened to British values over the last 50 years and bemoans the fact that Britons lead Europe in everything from “brand awareness and rates of obesity to public drunkenness, drug use, sexually transmitted infections and family breakdown”. Ware is about a year older than me and so perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising that I found myself agreeing with most of the points he raised (in a “grumpy-old-men-together” sort of way, you understand!). The school where I work has a very good reputation for being able to deal with behavioural issues (and clearly I can’t compare my experiences with those of some inner city schools), but I’ve certainly been appalled by the attitudes, values and manners of some of the pupils I deal with on a regular basis. Only last week, I heard one 14 year old girl (as in “14-going-on-27) verbally “lay into” her mother and effectively tell her that it was her right to be given a lift to and from school each day (even though she lives with very easy walking distance) and that of course she shouldn’t be asked to help out around the house (and that none of her friends ever had to do so either). This same girl has allegedly been “sleeping around” for more than year, has been involved in violent behaviour outside school and, on one occasion at least, has been picked up by the police in the early hours of the morning in an inebriated state. Somewhat predictably, one only has to meet the parents of many of these children and you realise why they are the way they are. Again last week, we were informed about two 15 year old boy pupils being taken into the pub by their fathers. The fathers got into an argument and started fighting each other; one of the men was apparently quite badly hurt after being kicked in the head by the other man whilst lying on the floor injured! One of the boys had to ring for the police and ambulance.
I’m well aware that there has always been an unruly element (even in my younger days, when we had Teddy boys, Mods and Rockers and the like!), but I do sometimes fear for our future society – when the sort of children I’m frequently dealing with have children of their own! I’ll be interested in seeing the second episode of Ware’s programme when I understand he’ll asking if it’s time we took a different approach to dealing with some of the dysfunctional parts of our society.
Photo: John Ware.

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