Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Excluding violent young people does not help to reduce offending and anti-social behaviour

In Monday's Times another striking article described the level of anti-social and challenging behaviour taking place in our schools and cities, with the consequential stress and fears experienced by nearly a third of our teachers. Most teachers apparently said that pupil behaviour had worsened. Critically, there is increasing evidence to show that many of these young people go on to commit higher levels of anti-social behaviour, substance misuse and serious crime.

Regrettably, little recognition is given to the fact that within many groups of society the way the adult population chooses to engage with children and young people is often the root cause of the problem. Rather than recognising that social deprivation and family dysfunction is often at the centre of such behaviour, punishment and retribution are still promoted as the means of addressing it. Until adults and the wider society recognises its own fundamental failings and weaknesses, the situation will undoubtedly worsen. To reduce offending and re-offending we must provide young people with the standards, role models, respect, support and encouragment to change and behave differently. The feelings, thoughts and behaviour expressed and demonstrated by many young people is a direct reflection of what they see and believe as being normal and acceptable. If we expect our young people to change, we must surely be willing to change ourselves.

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