Thoughts On The London Riots

…from a resident of the UK, Alastair Roberts:

In response to the riots in London and elsewhere, a number of people have responded by accusing society of simply failing to care about such young people. This indifference on the part of society supposedly leads to disaffection in the youth and the anti-social criminal behaviour that we have witnessed on our television screens over the last few days.

While this accusation is not without a large measure of truth – many people don’t care, or fail to care actively enough – it strikes me as ultimately somewhat simplistic and missing important parts of the picture. It seems to me that many within society do care very deeply about deprived and disconnected urban youth, and that there are numerous people who are actively trying to make a difference to their lives. For each group advocating treating these rioters as scum and rats to be eradicated, suppressed, or cynically appeased, there are plenty of others who, although angered by their evil actions, really want to make a positive difference to their lives.

Many of these young people will have been exposed to teachers, youth workers, church leaders and workers, mentors, social workers, and programmes that transformed the lives of many of their peers. They may well be the 10% that slipped through the fingers of the various systems that they belonged to and the people that sought to make a difference in their lives, systems and people that prove profoundly effective in the lives of many. They may be the problem cases that resisted all of the effects of concerned and conscientious people. In many cases wider society can largely wash its hands of any responsibility for their actions: society did all that lay in its power, but they were unwilling to accept or respond to all of the work that concerned parties invested in them.

There are innumerable other cases, of course, cases in which society could have done more. However, as often as not, the key problems here are not simplistically attributable to a lack of care on the part of society, but other matters entirely. ‘Care’ and ‘concern’ aren’t panaceas for social ills, especially ones that are as deeply embedded in dysfunctional social structures, systems, and patterns as these…

Be sure to read all of this thoughts, this is just an excerpt.