Allison Pearson: Don't go blaming the police or the system -- it's the parents, stupid
Published 11/08/2011 | 05:00
Where are the parents? That's what I keep asking myself. As politicians and commentators agonised over the socio-economic significance of British youth swarming like zombies over cities, my neighbour Louise, who has raised six boys, took one look at the TV news and said wearily: "They need a smacked bottom and to be sent to bed early."
Quite so, but where were the adults to set those boundaries and patrol them? In Clapham, Kelly Hutchings phoned a friend at 2.15am to tell her she could see the woman's 14-year-old son outside her house. "You've just woke me up," complained the mother.
The riots were like a video game that had kicked its way out of the Xbox and kept on playing because no adult could find the remote control to make it stop. They embarrassed our country, those Am-I-bovvered kids smashing police cars up, just for the hell of it. Just for the heaven of it. Forget serious protests about education cuts, the little blighters were clearly having a lovely time, high on excitement and cruelty. It was 'Lord of the Flies' dressed by Adidas. In Croydon, they burnt down a furniture store that had survived two world wars. The owner, a man gaunt and guttering like a melted candle, could scarcely speak for shock: "We don't understand. There must be something completely wrong in the system of this country to allow it to happen."