Monday, August 20, 2007

Why are British "Yoof" so out of control

Yet another violent murder takes place in Britain, and yet another call for new laws, this time to raise the drinking age to 21. Why have British youth become so violent? It's not good enough to say that "this sort of thing has always happened". The facts are undeniable: the number of muggings has skyrocketed, and so have attacks involving knives. Had you seen a group of disruptive youths 20-30 years ago, you would have remonstrated with them, today you wouldn't dare to take the risk.

Various "experts" have advanced arguments for the social malaise affecting Britain: Everything is blamed from easy availability of alcohol, to social deprivation, to youths being bored. But we have always had poverty and social deprivation, and in continental Europe, alcohol is cheap as bottled water, so why don't the Italians or French behave like wild animals?

You might find the answer if you cross the channel. We were in France a few months ago and noticed that not only do people drink socially (as opposed to Britain where people drink in order "to get hammered"), they eat as a family. In much of continental Europe people value family occasions, and parents enjoy taking time away off work to be with their children. In Britain by contrast, the family has become a dirty word: you only have to watch the EastEnders Christmas special, when even the one annual family event, Christmas dinner becomes a moment of dread, it's a pretty accurate reflection of life in Britain.

My Father once wrote:
The family is a walled garden in which the young flourish and the old decline, and functions as a lasting source of mutual support. Remove it, and one is left to the caring professions, who can, within limits, be useful enough as a prop to the family, but are no substitute for it.
This is true as ever today.