Those few of forlorn hope

Council estate children, might well be described in this manner. Parents, with no ambition, with children of little hope other than ‘achieving’ what their parents limit of have.

The mother who openly calls her child a ‘dopey cxxt and I will bite his fxxxxxg face off’ for an infringement of her ‘rules’, feels sure she’s doing the right thing, with that kind of language. The parents who are content to let their children sit in front of the TV morning, noon and night, watching cartoons or much worse. Parents who feel affronted, when called into school to be advised that their child is behaving in an anti-social way.

Children aren’t born horrible but soon, all too soon, learn, how to test boundaries. They test the limits of social behaviour, in the school playground or, here on the estate where they’re brought up. Neighbour disputes often arise, sometimes violently, simply because of the inability of parents to discipline their children, And they don’t know how to talk to their  neighbours or discuss issues of conflict.

Seldom, have I seen a more pitiful site than when tracing a water leak. I needed to enter a child’s bedroom only to find – a dirty wee stained mattress on the floor in a corner with a couple of equally dirty stained blankets strewn on top. I knew his mother was alcoholic, and his wider family members were into drugs of one type or another, but in the late 1990s and mid 2000s, it was still shocking to see. For weeks, I would see that boy, outside in the estate grounds just kicking a football about by himself against the concrete wall. It wasn’t long before I learnt, he’d been arrested for a petty crime of stealing a car – for which he was sent to a well-known ‘young offenders prison’ for twelve weeks. That short sharp shock taught him how to be a proper thug. It made him into a consummate liar and petty burglar for which he went back inside many times. Incarceration, held no fears for that boy, as he told me later. He claimed he’d some ‘right good mates’ in prison who looked after him better than brothers.

On the other hand was a really nice family who took a pride and interest in both their children’s education and exam results. Both those nice children lived on this estate for roughly the same number of years. I could tell, without too much effort, who were being brought up to be nothing more than prison fodder and those who wold almost certainly go on to a college education and full time employment. I’ve believed for a long time in the difference between nurture or nature has on children but equally it is self evident that poor parenting only forces the next generation into a life of crime and deprivation for their offspring.

Having lived on this estate for twenty seven years I have seen children from many different types of background. Many children from immigrant families, who in my opinion seem to raise their children to be polite and respectful of others, cause no problems on the estate. They’re a credit to both this estate and their parents. It’s such a pity that we have to endure the kids who have no respect for themselves or anyone else. If it were not so draconian I would suggest a partnership between schools, social services and landlords where early intervention by those organisations results in enforced parenting courses for the inadequate parents. It would be of huge benefit to all concerned.

Mike

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