A study commissioned by the BBC has revealed that more than a third of young people given ASBOs have what the report calls a 'brain disorder'. I might prefer to call it a neurological difference, but the point is the same - young people with conditions such as autism, ADHD and Asperger's syndrome are being punished by the criminal justice system instead of being helped with their social development.
The report cites one case in which two young brothers - one with autism, one with ADHD - have been given ASBOs for jumping over neighbours' gardens. Yes, you read that right. Their mum quite rightly complains that the attention from the authorities that her sons are getting now would have been more than welcome before they got into trouble!
Conditions such as those mentioned inhibit a person's ability to see things from other people's point of view, which of course means that person is less likely to understand that certain behaviours will hurt or upset other people and therefore that they shouldn't do them. And although they can not be 'cured' (it's another discussion entirely whether you would want them to be), appropriate help and support can often bring about significant progress in developing social skills and reducing unacceptable behaviour.
I have blogged previously about the shortage of services for kids with Asperger's. This issue also has parallels with the government's plans to provide parenting classes to parents only after their kids have got into trouble with the law.
But fundamentally, this report exposes an absolute scandal - that children and young people with special needs are being treated as criminals. Call this a civilised society?! It stinks.