Saturday, 13 August 2011

Riots at Home

As I return to the UK from my time in Greece I wonder what I will face in London. The violent scenes I saw on the front pages of the newspapers seemed a million miles away when I was sitting in a quite Taverna in a small village in the mountains of Pelion; the suns rays beamed through the trees and gently warmed me as I listened to the soft rippling sounds of the stream in in the background. Old men chatting, children playing and then a text...from my daughter telling me that events had occurred in Bromley and Shortlands and how scared she was feeling and another text from my friend in Lewisham and I realised that some of the riots had been right outside another friends front door
I text her to see if she was ok.

As my plane lands and the doors open and the air hits my face, I notice a cold feeling, not only from the wind, but from my feeling of sorrow that our young people in the UK became so very angry and overwhelmed;causing damage and harm to people, families and communities. I wait in the cue to show my passport and the lady standing next to me expresses her anxiety about what has happened while we have been away and she tells me that her daughter was so distressed when she watched the scenes on the TV that she asked her mum to turn it off.

It is a very important time to think about how we talk with and listen to our own family members.I'm wondering what my grandchildren are feeling and thinking as they witness this.

I ask myself how did crowds come together for such destruction ?

I reflect on the amazing potential we have for such immediate communication, collaboration and organisation: the Internet and its social networking sites and also the power of such a system to work for destruction too

I wonder about the issues underlying this outbreak and guess some of the needs being expressed might include: ...a need to belong, to be part of a group, to be accepted feel significant, a need for justice, fairness, to be noticed and listened too, a need for power, for freedom and for revolution

"Punish them"  and ..."zero tolerance"..are the main messages that I hear and I feel this too as I hear the pain and see the damage that has been caused and at the same time, I want much more than this. I want to see restorative justice to help them to recognise what pain and damage they have caused and to support them to express themselves and to hear their plight.  If we simply punish and continue to repress this violence through control, fear and punishment I really don't think it will disappear, instead it will fester and boil until another opportunity arises and it will erupt again and we will be engulfed in its lava.

Here are a few of the comments that caught my attention on face book

"More than 90,000 people have signed an online petition calling for anyone convicted of taking part in the riots to lose any benefits they receive. Yeah that's going to really help isn't it. Not"

"I think it starts with education. Pay good teachers more money and show the kids that they can educate themselves out of the poverty trap.

"Oh for goodness sake. How does evicting people from their homes help make anything better?"

"If the youth are not welcome into the tribe, they will burn down the village to feel its warmth!

What are your thoughts on this?
Mine are that as a nation and in our own communities we need to do so much more to address these issues, they are varied and have depth and have not arisen overnight.

It would help if we had more investment in:
  • Intervention for families living in poverty and those who need support to transform the emotional impact of the experiences they offer their children ... early years intervention is key for young people to develop empathy and to prevent violence.....
  • Services for children and families that listen, hear and understand and work in trans formative ways to connect with heart, not with judgement and to empower parents.
  • Children's centres, early years settings and schools that work as small communities and are inclusive and have the resources to support the social, emotional and behavioural issues that arise within groups and between individuals in the settings as an everyday part of life. We need to be confident in our management of conflict in a way that develops our capacity to live in peace with each other not in war.
  • Family support attached to these settings.
  • Systems of restorative justice.

Just some thinking out loud!


    1. Hi Tracy and thanks for your post. Like you, I'd like to see some restorative justice (rather than an invitation to magistrates - as I understand - to "throw out the rule books" and mete out harsher than usual sentences). It seems to me that the quality of conversations that take place through restorative justice make it more likely that everyone will be held to account - including the politicians.

    2. I feel really strongly around the comment of Tania, regarding the initiation and welcoming of the youth into the tribe, so that they can feel its warmth.
      We are a nation that has lost site of its youth, lost site of the value of each human life, forgotten that we are tribal people and we need each other, we have beeb encouraged by the media, to be consumers, driven by the next gadget and ways of looking good, an ipod era where we live in our own pod, literally!
      There are some amazing people in the communities doing some fabulous work, how about we hear some of this news. I do not believe that dishing out a harsher sentence will help in any way shape of form.

    3. Thought I'd share this with you all..interesting dialogue.....

    4. For those who are interested this link too is where interesting comments and dialogue is open...

    5. What are your thoughts?