Sunday, November 04, 2007

Letter to the echo - LibDem leader - attack on "vermin" Liverpool children

I am deeply disturbed by Councillor Warren Bradley's letter to the Echo this weekend.

I absolutely agree with him that we need to tackle lawless behaviour from children and young people. Threatening our fire fighters, police officers or ordinary members of the public with fireworks and stones in the name of mischief is behaviour that definitely should be stopped.

I also agree with him that some parents are failing their children and failing our society by not taking their responsibilities seriously and not teaching their children the difference between right and wrong, not keeping an eye on them, not knowing where they are when they are out causing trouble.

However, Councillor Bradley has the power to make a difference. He should stop shutting youth clubs, start funding youth workers, provide our kids with exciting and engaging things to do that would beat hanging round on street corners. He should be opening schools in the evenings and in the holidays so kids can play computers games or make films, play basketball, set up bands, record music, paint nails, design clothes, make art, learn to act, learn to sing or play the guitar or the drums, train in the gym…

He should definitely be offering parenting classes right across the city, most parents of badly behaved kids want to do a good job, but they don’t know how to and often their own parents didn’t set much of an example. You only have to watch Super Nanny or Little Angels or any of the many other TV programmes to see how hard some people find it.

If the LibDems wont support parents to learn how to get their kids back on the straight and narrow and they wont open the schools up and they wont pay for youth workers and they close youth clubs then they should not be surprised if the "mischief" grows out of control.

Vermin are defined as things that need exterminating, our city's leader should not be calling Liverpool children "vermin". This panders to the most extreme prejudice, and is about as illiberal as it is possible to be. No child is beyond redemption as far as I am concerned, it is for the adults to put them back on the right road. If Cllr Bradley is not adult enough to take the job on then it is time our city elected a party that is.


Jim said...

"Hear hear"

And a "hear hear" again from the better half!

Louise Baldock said...

I know lots of Liberal Democrats read this blog. You cannot possibly be happy with this.

Many of you I know would agree with me that the city should be doing a lot more to provide diversionary activity. Many of you work with young people, many of you know how hard some parents find parenting. We have all had people in our surgeries wringing their hands, desperate for help to manage their kids.

I had thought about providing a list of LibDem councillors that I would imagine would be as appalled as I am, but I think that would be too difficult for you personally and so counter-productive so I have decided not to.

Equally, I would not expect any of you to comment here or tell me how you intend to take this forward within your group but I appeal to you to tackle your leadership about this.

We have got to support our kids and our parents and we have got to stop referring to our kids as "vermin", or indeed "feral" and neither do they deserve a "good kicking" which was the observation of one of your group in a public meeting in Kensington recently.

I must believe that some of you are "liberal" and I call on you to root out this illiberal attitude within your party before the city is damaged beyond repair.

steve faragher said...

feral might have been more appropriate, ie they once were tame and are now not but can be tamed again

As an ex youth worker who worked many years in Knowsley where the current Liverpool officers cut thier teeth and set the "gold" standard (David McElhinney,et al) by ripping the guts out of the statutory youth service and then set to work doing the same in Liverpool, the cycle time for the effects of cut backs or "rationalising" youth provision is about five to ten years from when the fundng is cut to when the shit hits the fan we can quite easily determine who is to blame for the "anti social" activities in the city then cant we.

If you want to see something really sad go out on Kensington and Prescot Road on a Friday night and see the kids dressed up to the nines lookign for somewhere to go, and as there's eff all to do this siutation naturally ends up in them getting bladdered and then up to no good.

The Government needs to actually define what statutory youth provision is as it is still left to local authorities to decide to this and usually this means the least they can get away with.

Connexions to some extent was meant to set a national standard for provision but they seem to spend more money on websites leafelts and offices in the Tea Factory than engaging young people in gainful activity.

Perhaps the new Neighbourhood centre in kensington could have a a state of the art youth centre in it, hang on me sides are splitting.

Giving the vote to 11 year olds would sort the problem out really quickly....

treb said...

Louise, you and I both grew up in an age when we used to hang around on street corners. What we didnt do was abuse or attack other people. The simple problem is a lack of discipline. Nothing else, nothing more, and that comes from poor management by the government...regardless of whom is in power. To blame other parties for lack of discipline in the home exposes Labour for what they are and what they lack...I know you dont want to hear that but your view is biased and always has been.......Treb

Louise Baldock said...

Well you would say that wouldnt you, you are a policeman!

Louise Baldock said...

- and a closet Tory to boot.

Nice to see my old flames can't keep away though xx

Robin Croxteth said...

Can't believe the comment from Treb, it's now the responsibility of government to instill discipline into kids?! Surely that would be a case of the government poking their noses into family life and taking the nanny state idea to a new level - the Supernanny State perhaps?

A lot of it is about parenting IMO, or sadly at times lack of it - but lack of youth work doesn't help at all as it means not only less to do, but also less interaction with potentially good role models and less opportunity to find out what is or isn't acceptable behaviour in society.

Telling teenagers that they're vermin is one of the worst things you can do, surely - it's not going to inspire them to better themselves now.... bemoaning the wasted potential there and offering ways to fulfil it would be a better option, but that costs money that needs to be used to dig up even more roads!

Cath said...

I don't follow what Treb is saying! Who else can you blame for lack of discipline in the home but those who are in it? The Government's fault? I don't think so.
As you say Louise, most parents want to do a good job and some don't know how and want to be friends with their children rather than parents. Boundaries have to be set and kids have to have something to do. You only have to watch the latest edition of Brat Camp to see how it starts and it most certainly isn't all kids from financially deprived backgrounds. Yes hanging around on street corners is something we all used to do but we weren't being sold drink or other mind altering substances. But to go to the press and call them vermin is no way to behave.

JB said...

The Lib Dems keep building on our parks and playing fields, which probably doesn't help.

Louise Baldock said...

Well the Echo didnt publish my letter but it did publish two others, one of which was very similar to mine, so the point has been made anyway.

This entry has attracted some very interesting comments which I am pleased about.

We really have got to get right the way we relate to young people and the services we provide for them and the support we give to them and their parents.

Their abject neglect in this city is a disgrace and has led directly in my view to some of the problems we are now facing with problem behaviour.

Whatever the LibDems say, we cannot leave the nurturing, welfare and development of our children and young people entirely to their parents.

Sarah said...

Vermin, or feral, it doesn't say much for the regard that is given to the children of our city. I work for a theatre company, our youth theatre gave a moving performance on Wednesday night of some work they have been producing around the attitudes they face within the city. Only our local Labour councillor bothered to turn up, our Lib Dems were undoubtably too busy having tea and being outraged about Mathew Street to bother coming to see what their vermin constituents had to say for themselves.
When you continually cut youth funding, when you build upon safe spaces to play and leave open areas to the mercy of drug users making them unsafe places to go, when you call those youngsters who are trying their best "vermin" - what are you telling them? A disgusting letter from a man who should spend more time leading and less time bitching.