When rich and powerful men behave like stroppy toddlers, should we blame the young for posing with weapons and hanging out in gangs? There are new demands for schools to teach boys aged 12 and 13 anger management, as if teachers didn’t have enough to do imparting literacy and numeracy. Teachers sign up to teach, not to replace parents, but increasingly we seem to want school to be a home from home, a place where unruly pupils receive toilet training, acquire social skills and cope with basics like letting someone else go first without punching them.
A report from the Innovation Unit, a think tank which was formerly part of the Department of Education, contends that an 89 per cent rise in knife crime in Greater Manchester should be addressed through special lessons. Researchers say that violence is becoming “normal behaviour” for kids with a chaotic home life. They claim that media is partly responsible for a rise in exclusions and fights at school, because aggressive acts are easily shared and there’s an impetus to react immediately.
I agree that social media creates a hothouse atmosphere, where the notion of disrespect can escalate what used to be normal teenage sparring and trashing into a dangerous and even fatal situation. But everywhere you look, there’s been a decline in what constitutes acceptable behaviour. Never mind bad parenting or posturing musicians – look at our so-called leaders. The prime minister is a misogynist who crudely derided women wearing the veil, and whose grasp of the truth is highly flexible. A clown-like cartoon character, who sometimes seems to have strayed from a seasonal panto. A great role model for young men?
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