The press campaign against children and youth (1993)

Submitted by dalcassian on 1 February, 2017 - 2:21 Author: Sean Matgamna

"Magistrates and judges have react-
ed to the juvenile crime scare by
increasing dramatically the number
of jail sentences handed out to young
offenders.
Courts have increased by 43 per
cent the number of those under 18 in
prison.
In the next few weeks, the number
of young offender places in a juvenile
unit at Deerbolt, Co Durham, will
double and new cells will open in
Brinsford jail, near Bristol. The
Home Office hopes this will help
ease the crisis."
Independent On Sunday, 14.3.93

WHEN A ROBBER robs
individuals, the robber
gets a bad name. When
big gangs of "civilised" European
robbers went overseas in armies
to kill, maim, plunder and enslave
whole tribes and nations of peo-
ple economically less developed
than themselves, then it was the
victims who got the bad name,
not the robbers.

People who were generous and
free before rapacious gangs of
set on them were depicted in tales
written by their murdering, peon-
ising opponents as stupid, vicious
and savage. They had to be treat-
ed rough to save them from them-
selves. And anyway, they
deserved what they got.
selves. And anyway, they
deserved what they got.
So it is with the Tories and the
children of Britain, against whom
a ridiculous but malignant cam-
paign is now being waged by the
Tory press.

In the last 14 years, this plun-
dering Tory government has done
terrible things to Britain's chil-
dren.

Everything done against the
working class and against the
poor has hit the children, the
weakest, exceptionally hard.
Everything rotten in our world
bears down on children with
exceptional and sometimes with
crushing force. They are the least
able to fend for themselves, the
least able to compete on equal
terms for scarce resources within
the family.

Look at the facts.
26% of British children now live
in households with less than half
the average income (twice as
many as in 1979 when the Tories
took over).

British Child Benefits are the
lowest in Western Europe. France
spends three times as much as
Britain on family allowances.
According to the Low Pay Unit,
two million school children in
Britain work illegally (a quarter
of them at less than £1 an hour).
Children suffer from the chaos
in education, from the shortage
of nursery places, from our miser-
able level of maternity leave —
which is, like so much else in
Britain, the worst in Western
Europe.

And then when they leave
school, they cannot find jobs.
They learn that there is one thing
under capitalism worse than to be
exploited by capitalism — not to
be exploited. To be unable to find
anyone who wants to use you. To
find no place in society at the
beginning of your adult life but
the scrap heap, alongside the
aged and the sick.

The lives of millions of children
have been fearfully but needlessly
impoverished and in some cases
warped because of what the Tory
custodians of capitalist civilisa-
tion have done to them, to their
parents and to the rest of the
working people of Britain in the
last 14 years.

UNDER THE Tories, Britain
has raised, and is raising
now, generations of young
victims. And now — triggered by
proper public shock at the killing
of a two year old, Jamie Bulger,
allegedly by two children in Liv-
erpool comes the campaign to
give these victims a bad name,
and to blame them entirely for
what the Tories have made of
them.

The children of Britain have had
things too soft, the newspapers
tell us. They are spoiled. They
have no discipline. They are
raised as "Little Emperors". Par-
ents no longer have them under
sufficiently firm control. Britain
must get tougher with its kids!
When you know that authorita-
tive estimates put at 62% the pro-
portion of children who are
getting 'smacked* before they
reach the age of one — that is,
treated by adults in such a man-
ner that other adults could sue if
it were done to them — you are
left wondering what "getting
tough" will look like.

Of course it is the old story —
everything some of the oppressed
in their suffering, confusion, des-
peration, anger or bloody-mind-
edness say and do is used as
evidence against all of them and
cited in support of those who mis-
treat them and of the thesis that,
when dealing with those bru-
taliscd and demoralised by ill-
treatment, the answer is to treat
them worse! Virtue? That is what
the ruling predators choose to do,
whatever it is.

However horrible the killing of
Jamie Bulger was, and however
one may condemn such "youth"
crimes as mugging, taken as a
whole the children and the young
people of Britain are victims.
Thoscwho now traduce and
scapegoat them are those whose
victims they are.

WHAT OUR children need
and deserve is not
tougher and harsher
treatment but better and more
gentle treatment. They need prop-
er social nurturing, from ade-
quate medical care at birth to
good food, clothes, and nursery
and school care as they grow up.

They need parental nurturing in
which they are treated with care,
love and respect. Where their nat-
ural weaknesses and immaturities
are compensated for and not used
as an occasion to victimise them
or lord it over them. Where they
are never subjected to violence, or
to the arbitrary diktats of domi-
neering adults prepared for their
own convenience to brutally over-
ride the child's drives and con-
ceras. Where adult-child relations
are not, as in the main they now
are, relations which teach the
child to respect and submit to
arbitrary power, and to look for-
ward to the time when he or she
will get a share of such power and
people to exercise it on.

In short, children need to be
brought up in such a way that
their formative relationships do
not put reason, co-operation and
respect for others at a discount
and lead them to the conclusion
that such ideas are for mugs, or
for when you have no choice.
And when they are grown they
need proper education, and then
proper jobs.

Love and care from parents and
from society is the only way to
rear children into loving and car-
ing adults with a properly devel-
oped sense of belonging to the
human race and to a worthwhile
society, whose common disci-
plines they can share and respect.
The miracle now is that most chil-
dren do, despite everything grow
up to be decent human beings.
It is poverty, neglect, the exam-
ple of the ruling class, exploita-
tion — think of it: two million
school children working illegally
in Britain in 1993! — and inces-
sant propaganda for the Tories'
dog-eat-dog philosophy that bru-
talise Britain and, inevitably,
some of the children of Britain.

If the labour and trade union
movement's leaders were not the
beaten and dispirited creatures
they are, the Tories and their
press would not get away with
this indiscriminate branding of
their young victims as a genera-
tion of criminals and potential
criminals.

The Tories would be branded
and hounded as the real crimi-
nals, and the system they serve
condemned for what it has done
and is doing .to the children of
Britain.

But the Labour and trade union
leaders are what they are.
It falls to the serious left to
throw the lies and the vicious
scapegoating back in the face of
the predatory capitalists and their
press now — just as we did when
they slandered and misrepresent-
ed the peoples they were robbing
and ill-treating at the far corners
of the world.
Socialist Organised March 1993