Letter: Crime: working-class pride and middle-class prejudice

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The Independent Online
I SEARCH the dictionary in vain for a corresponding word to misogynist with which to describe some of the contributors to your conference on families, children and crime, as reviewed by Nick Cohen ('The making of machismo', 21 November).

The reality of council-estate life is, for the most part, families struggling together to survive in the teeth of hostility from government and professionals who seem to have a vested interest in creating fear and division.

There are terrible problems on some inner-city estates. The true economic roots of these problems, such as the exclusion of teenagers from the official economy, are now being obscured by the prejudices of sections of the left as well as the right. On the bulk of council estates up and down the country life is as secure as elsewhere and the sense of community a tangible thing. Working-class boys are as decent and kind as their middle-class counterparts, the realities of life are just different and demand different behaviour.

Teenagers do gather together and sometimes they fight - that's part of growing up, particularly for a boy. Hostility is not a deviant response to being alienated and attacked, it is a survival strategy. At least their aggression is open and honest unlike the victimisation, covert wickedness and increasingly blatant prejudice expressed at the conference.

Tom Daly

Watford, Herts