Showing kids the effects of knife crime and expecting them to reform shows a misunderstanding of our psychology. The adrenaline buzz we get from a little danger – or pretend danger like a roller coaster ride – is addictive. Emphasising the danger of carrying a concealed weapon, can only make otherwise boring teenage lives more exciting.
Fortunately, the proposals behind the headlines are much more sensible; intervening in 110,000 problem families. Parenting classes for those who have failed to create a home environment in which anti-social behaviour isn’t tolerated may amount to blaming the parents, but hey, guess who’s responsible for their kids.
Back in the 1980s, suspension and expulsion from my old school, in inner city London, were badges of honour for those who came from families with no respect or interest in education. Teachers daren’t detain pupils because it was not uncommon for an angry father to storm into school and rescue his offspring with a threat of violence. But if it had been followed through with sanctions that fell on parents, I suspect things would have been different. Dad would not have been keen on a compulsory parenting class… although I pity whoever ends up leading that lesson.
Meanwhile, the Tories have nothing of substance to offer. ‘Why not just throw them in jail?’ asks the Mail’s Stephen Pollard, echoing shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve. The answer is that while punishment should be dished out as appropriate, it has very little deterrent effect. Criminals simply don’t commit crime in anticipation of getting caught, either because they think they’ve taken precautions or their state of mind precludes them for thinking too far ahead; the prison population is disproportionately made up of drug addicts and the mentally ill and knife crime is most often committed in the heat of the moment. Not only does punishment fail to deter, it can only be imposed after the crime has been committed; prevention is better than cure.
To be fair, some Tories are thinking longer term. ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie talks of values and at first sight can appear reasonable. But dig around and it becomes clear that this is little more than a repackaging of the social conservatism of old and is consequently ill equipped to plan for the future. Attempts to promote two parent heterosexual families fail to recognise that in many dysfunctional homes, men are aggressors with little of value to offer their children.
These Conservatives are still inspired by Christian faith and values, failing to understand that those of us who have never been superstitious only develop faith at times of personal crisis. The Conservative’s is a backward approach that refuses to accept that Britain is a multi-cultural society and so consequently has nothing to offer.