Letter: Children of violence

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Letter: Children of violence

Sir: You report (29 December) that researchers at Birmingham University have found that violent juveniles behave the way they do because of bad parenting rather than from watching violent videos.

As a former juvenile offender myself, I was struck by how different my perspective seems to be from those researchers and the editor of The Independent. To those of us brought up in violent families at the hands of a violent father or a neurotic mother, always short of money, in homes as cold in fact as in spirit, the conclusion of this study is too obvious to rate a mention. In my case, videos certainly did not play a part (they were not invented then). My teenage urge to commit violence against figures in authority was a result of having been brutalised as a child.

Nursery nurses, community psychiatric nurses, health visitors and teachers have been saying for years that early intervention is essential if the damaging effects of bad parenting are to be undone. The personalities of many children are already warped by the time they enter primary school.

Two years ago, sessions were organised in Manchester for mothers who had problems relating to their children. Parent and child played together and the session was videod. Replay was used to show parents the aspects of their behaviour which needed attention. The sessions worked well. Needless to say, the funding for this project was cut.

In many poor areas, the effects of inadequate parenting and violent behaviour are being propagated from generation to generation. Many violent juvenile offenders have been expelled from school for disruptive behaviour. Aggressive young males with time on their hands tend to father children at an earlier age, propagating the species being one aspect of life that they can enjoy some success at.

The social security system has created cultural backwaters, only tenuously connected to normal family life. Solutions to the problem of juvenile violence will be long-term and expensive and I will be very surprised if the review of social security policy addresses these issues.

PHILIP KNIGHT

Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire

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