On the Saturday evening after the London riots, I went to Lewisham to catch up with friends. I guess it was inevitable that we got into a debate about the riots – not only is it one of the most topical issues at this point in time, we were in one of the areas most effect by the looting.
It’s also unsurprising that we very rapidly got onto the topic of parental responsibility. We debated on the need for parents to take responsibility for their children; the capability of some parents to effectively bring up their children; the criticality of parenting in a child’s formative years in order to form a firm foundation; the concept of community and the role of community in the upbringing of children.
Although we all started of from divergent view points we ultimately came to the conclusion that there is a need for effective parenting, but as with the African proverb which says that “it takes a whole village to raise a child” it is a community responsibility. We further agreed that we all needed to do more if young people feel alienated from the rest of their communities and society as a whole. It’s unacceptable for people to feel so alienated from their communities that they are read to destroy it.
We then moved on to other subjects until it was time for us to all go our separate ways.
As we were in a tower block, we had to use the lift to get downstairs. As we exited the lift a young boy of about 14 entered the building. I watched as he walked past us not uttering a word. At the same time none of us said anything to him even though the person who’s flat we were coming from had lived there for years so would have probably seen the boy before.
Reflecting on this, as we all walked towards our cars, I pointed this out. I noted that there is a common expectation that younger people have the responsibility to first acknowledge older people, but what really stops us from doing so and subsequently build up relationships.
We all went our separate ways, acknowledging that although there is a need for wisdom in our approach, there are little things that we can all begin to do immediately.
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