Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The One That Thinks It's All Arse About Face. . .

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine on Sunday morning. Her 14 year old daughter was recently attacked by a gang of 12 girls in Ashford, Kent. Now, I've never considered Ashford (the town where I grew up) to be a particularly bad town, it has one estate of local bad repute, but it certainly isn't Fallujah.

The disturbing thing, beyond the obvious, is this; two of the girls in the gang were classmates of the unfortunate young lady. As far as I can gather even though the ringleader and other members of the gang, including these two girls, have been identified, the school has declined to take any real action as the incident happened out of school.

Now, dear reader, if you set about a colleague outside of the work-place you would expect to lose your job as a result.

Another friend of mine, who works as a foster carer, recounted an incident involving one of her charges. This time there was an assault in the classroom by a young man on the girl in her care that involved her being punched in the stomach and the face. The school in question requested she attend the campus and take her foster daughter home as a result.

'Have you called the Police?' she quite reasonably asked.
'No.' came the reply. 'We would only summon the Police in the event of a serious incident.'
'She has been assaulted. If I were to do the same to you, now, would you call the Police?'
'Well, yes.'
'So what's the difference?'
'Well, we're adults.'

Now, there's a difference between a scrap in the playground (although a scrap in the pub car-park would probably attract the attention of the local constabulary) and a focused assault in a classroom. To say that the Police are not needed suggests that a child has less right to protection against assault than an adult. Or worse, children have a right to assault other people, a right that adults do not have.

Of course the foster mother reported the incident to the Police, who said they preferred not to get involved with incidents such as this. Yeah, I fucking bet you don't. Any other areas of law enforcement you don't feel like getting involved with? Arson? Murder perhaps? What about detection and solving of crimes? Too much for you? Perhaps you'd be better off attending another diversity workshop.

The thing is, we'll criminalise someone for dropping a fag butt on the ground, but actually get a proper crime with like, a real victim, and they'll run a mile. The message sent out is two-fold, to the wrong-'uns it says 'Do what you want, you have carte-blanche, neither the educational nor judicial authorities will take any action.' To those that act as responsible, pleasant human beings it is 'Forget it. You are sooooooooo fucked. Oh, is that an apple core you just put in that bush? Tut tut, see you in court.'

Is it any wonder that kids are taking to carrying knives? No-one is going to defend them, so they might as well do it themsevles.

Then we have the case of Sarika Watkins-Singh, the Sikh girl who was suspended from school for wearing a bangle as a sign of her faith. This, apparently, contravened the school's no jewellery uniform policy. She won, thankfully. What a ridiculous state of affairs. What is a 14 year old girl doing in the High Court defending her right to express her faith? Is a bangle really that important to the school?

No, the only reason this went all this way is because this young girl didn't shut the fuck up, sit down and do as she was told. Who the hell does she think she is? How dare she challenge these totally arbitrary rules set down on a whim. The only winners were the lawyers, the whole lot would have paid for by public funds. That's our money, by the way.

So we have one girl, excluded from school for wearing a bracelet* that you wouldn't even notice unless you looked for it, whilst no action is taken against those who violently assault their classmates. Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?

*I understand that the bracelet shouldn't have been classed as jewellery anyhow. The school apparently only kicked up a fuss about it when the girl's parents complained of racist bullying. Obviously it was her fault for drawing attention to herself by wearing it. That's a great bullying policy isn't it?

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