From the Comments at the Reading the Riots article in the Guardian. This is just about perfect so I thought I’d leave it without further comment.
5 December 2011 9:35AM
I used to work in both primary and secondary schools in poor parts of London. Since the riots I have reflected on the things I observed there. There are a couple of incidents that I think are relevant. In one school a child – about 10 years old- was being restless and disruptive in the classroom. I could see in his face and behaviour that he was full of anger. I said to him- ‘you seem full of anger and in my experience anger is always there for a reason. If you want to talk about it come and see me’. At lunch that day he came and sat next to me. He told me that his parents were beating him with a belt on a regular basis.
In another school I was a Cover Supervisor. A 12- year old child decided to shout out swear words randomly as I was trying to speak. I asked him to come outside and gave him a similar speech- ‘In my experience when someone acts as you did, it is because they are in pain, and don’t know how to share it. Normally it’s about something happening at home- I won’t pry but if you want me to get you help I will.’ I expected him to snigger or shrug, but he didn’t, he started crying.
I recount these incidents to display something well known in psychotherapy- that our actions, especially anti-social ones, often tell the story that our mouths cannot.
On these occasions I got lucky- those particular children were reachable. With some children such an approach doesn’t work. The pain and hate they hold is longstanding and appears to have become part of their personality. These are the children you find turning to crime.
5 December 2011 10:19AM
You sound helluva naive. What about greed, envy, maliciousness? No wonder discipline in schools is so bad.
5 December 2011 10:07AM
what about them.. pray tell..
are they your specialism?
But sarcasm aside..
what exactly are you saying: that those rioters were born to riot? That they were born greedy and malicious? That the fact that most of them came from the poorest parts of London, and were considered to have special needs by their school is irrelevant?
Let’s be totally clear- to seek the cause of something in order to minimize the chance of it occurring again- is not to excuse or condone it.