British children are being “demonised” by a society that is locking too many of them up, according to watchdogs.
According to a joint report, compiled by all the Children’s commisioners in the UK, attitueds towards children were hardening.
The experts said crime committed by children had fallen between 2002 and 2006, but the numbers criminalised had gone up by just over a quarter.
The four commissioners were appointed in a move to ensure children’s rights are more effectively recognised by policy-makers. Their UN report is part of the UK’s international obligations to report on standards.
They added that too many children were being put through the criminal justice system and the poverty experienced by one in three youngsters was unacceptable for a rich nation.
The experts said more children were scared in their neighbourhoods and, citing previous studies, drank more alcohol, had deteriorating mental health and felt more pressure at school than their European peers.
Public bodies are legally bound to put the best interests of a child first in decision-making. But the commissioners said this key legal safeguard had failed in some parts of the youth justice system for England and Wales.
I agree with some of this. I have a number of major problems when it comes to society and its attitudes towards children and young people:
Firstly, ASBOs. These are civil sanctions and do not result in a criminal conviction. However, quite unusually breaching an ASBO is a criminal offenence. So, not only do they go against the normal principles of our legal system (where Civil and Criminal law are seperate from one another), but it also criminlises children for behaviour which would not normally be criminal (e.g. being in a certain place that their order says they shouldn’t be)
Secondly, society is very dismissive of children and young people and view all as trouble makers regardless of what is going on. People get intimidated by even a small group of youths and even when these people are notdoing anything wrong. For this I often place most of the blame on the media who constantly print the bad things and rarely praise young people for the good things that many of them do.
Also, older members of society talk about respect. However, I believe that respect must work both ways. As a younger teenager I lost respect for a lot of adults simply because of the way the treated me when I was doing nothing. I was once walking from a friend’s house to mine (there was 4 of us) and an old lady screamed at us as we walked past. She screamed, “stop making my life a misery you drunk adicts” (I don’t drink or use drugs and never have done). We also had the police stop and search us because they thought we might have been carrying a weapon.
That’s all on this topic just now, but it’s something I’ll post on again in the future.