I know there is currently so much talk, analysis and thought about the recent riots, much of it from more intelligent commentators than me.  However I wanted to comment on some of the reactions I have seen and heard in the aftermath of events.  I do so as someone who has worked with young people for over 12 years and still believes that youthwork and informal education are amazingly powerful tools.

When people start advocating shooting, shipping off and the conscription of ALL young people I am afraid I kind of lose it.  Surely people are clever enough to see these things are so much more complex than that.  ALL young people?!  Young carers working tirelessly to look after family members? – send them to Afghanistan!  Employed young people, paying taxes and ‘contributing’ to the economy?  Shoot them at dawn!  Young people, unemployed but volunteering in their communities? – national service!

I have had the privilege, and I do count it as a privilege, of working with 100s of young people.  They all have one thing in common – they are all human.  A fact that many seem to have forgotten.  It seems very dangerous to start dehumanising people (I think that was one of the tactics adopted during the Nazi regime in Germany?!)  It seems strange that a few weeks ago after the horrific shootings in Norway, young people were seen as children – someone’s child, as human beings, as people.  Only a few weeks later a very small number of young people are involved in rioting and suddenly young people are evil, yobs, feral.  There’s something wrong when we can just switch this image of a whole group of people in society so quickly.

Is Britain broken?  Isn’t everyone?  But isn’t there still beauty, redemption, hope, faith?


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