I was walking through Monmouth town centre last Sunday when three boys aged around twelve, I estimated, approached me on bicycles. This wouldn’t have been unusual except that they were on the pavement and were going to have to swerve to avoid me. As they did so, in my most conciliatory tones, I said to them, “You should really be on the road, guys”. The eldest boy turned round to me and angrily yelled “F–k you, you f—ing t–t!”.
I clearly pressed a button there.
A few minutes later, I approached a group of girls, again, aged no more than thirteen, standing at the corner of Woolworths. The smallest, dressed like a prostitute, (high heels and a pointlessly small skirt) was smoking. As I passed within a couple of feet of her, she spat on the ground, narrowly missing my feet.
Now I’m not going to make the conventional complaint that kids were never like that when I was young, as I’m pretty sure every generation gets its share of uncouth youth. I would be curious, though to meet the parents of these kids to see if they know and more importantly care that their children are behaving in these ways and if they condone or encourage it by the examples they set.
This is all very topical, with Tony Blair announcing measures even as I write to tackle “yob culture“, but it seems to me no top down approach can have the desired effect. Change will need to come from communities (remember them?) and families (remember them too?!) not tolerating delinquency and promoting respect for everyone, not just grumpy 36 year old blokes.