Friday, 29 July 2011

bad decisions

No offence to my readers across the pond but I used to think America was pretty fucked.
The home of McDonalds, Jerry Springer, KKK and the Westborough church.

I suppose it's relevant to the size of the country but America seems to have the worst of everything. Serial killers, drive by shootings, gangs, botox filled 8 year olds in beauty pageants, crazy people and extreme obesity.
There is so much stuff that I see on the TV that makes me say 'only in America'.
And yeah I know that there are other countries where worse things happen, but it seems to me that some parts of America are so fucking tolerant of so much wrongness whilst being intolerant of other things that are rightly becoming accepted elsewhere - gay marriage for instance.
But the thing that scares me the most is watching documentaries about the youth. Especially young black people, any American prison I've ever seen on TV appears to be full of young black men, my sons age and younger, who often talk about killing each other and awful things they've seen on the street as if it's normal everyday stuff.
I guess for them it is.
I find that worrying and very very sad.

Some of the things I've seen and heard about the country made me very glad indeed to be English.

But lately I'm starting to think that we're heading the same way over here.

If we want our country to have a decent prosperous future then we need to invest in our youth. It sounds like a cliche but the children are the future, and if you don't take care of them - by giving them decent chances and choices in life you're gonna get screwed when it's their turn to run the country or work and pay taxes that keep the place afloat.

Crime rates, underage drinking, poverty, lack of education, teenage pregnancy and drug use are linked.
It's also true that a lot of those things occur out of boredom, lack of choice and low aspirations. Many young people nowadays live in areas of high density population where unemployment rates are high and the local schools are performing badly in terms of pupils achievements.

It's a downward spiral of low expectations and outcomes that's starting at a younger age with each new generation.

One of my previous jobs was working for a community based charity that targetted young people who were perceived to be at risk of, or already involved in criminal activity by setting up Youth Inclusion Programmes. Since I was employed at the start of a new project part of the role was to talk to the police, youth offending team, schools and councillors and obtain anti-social behaviour and crime statistics for the area.
As a charity that relied on funding we needed to be able to prove there was a need in the chosen area, and then over time show that the work we undertook had an effect on those statistics.
The work was essentially in two parts, young people who were referred into the project by the police and YOT -  these kids were the ones to whom we would offer an intensive service that involved mentoring, and the other part was to set up and run community based activities that were open to any young person who wanted to attend.

It took about six months to get things properly up and running. Some young people were easier to reach then others, but once it was in place we had ALL the kids from the area who were known to the police involved, coming to our sports sessions, youth groups, working with us in school, some were even working towards recognised awards such as the Duke of Edinburgh.

We helped these kids stay out of trouble by keeping them entertained.
Although I no longer work there the project - and several others run by the same charity around the city - are still running and doing great things. I could write about individuals I personally mentored and achievements they made but this would end up being an epic post, lets just say it still makes me very happy to know I played a part in helping them on the right path.
I occasionally see some of the young people around and they are all doing well. Yes there are some for whom it doesn't work, but mostly it does.
And yes, those statistics did indeed drop.

And really all we did was give them something productive and entertaining to do with their spare time that gave them a choice other then petty crime and anti-social behaviour.

And then . . . .

Today on the news I hear the government are cutting funding to youth services by FOUR MILLION pounds.

Way to fucking go.

All this will do is increase the levels of boredom, and lack of productive activities for our kids and force closure of the remaining youth centres, and what will the end result of that be ?
Bored kids getting into trouble.
And worse.
(Update in light of recent events: Much worse. Once again I was right.)

Because it will be the youngsters from the poorer families in the deprived areas where the youth club is their only alternative to hanging around the streets who suffer. The ones who need the free services because for whatever reason their families cannot afford to be paying for expensive clubs and sports centres.
Even if they could young people are often quite territorial, they like to socialise and meet with their friends in their local area, and a lot of built up urban areas are lucky to have a park, never mind a sports centre, cinema or the like.
And of course the other important service that youth workers provide is taking the time to get to know the young people and their problems, and offering alternatives and solutions. They are crucial in identifying issues that need specialised help, like drugs workers and health advisers and can direct young people to other services that they are often unaware of such as sexual health. Sometimes they identify victims of child abuse, their role goes way beyond organising activities.

In Hampshire alone this will mean the loss of 150 youth workers and Connexions advisers. Connexions is a service that helps young people access jobs and further education.

The announcement said that services to disabled youngsters won't be affected.
Well I guess that's good news for them but they are rarely the kids who end up in trouble, and if you're disabled there is other help available to you and your family. In this country if you as an adult are unable to work because you are caring for another person who is disabled there are extra benefits you can claim, and there are many charities that offer all kinds of help.

Living in a high rise flat in a crap area where there's nothing to do and no green spaces with three siblings, one parent and no money qualifies you for nothing.
Apart from a shitty life.
Education might be a way out, as long as your school isn't subject to government cuts that mean there are 40 kids to every teacher and the disruptive kids ruin every lesson because there's no money left to fund pupil referral units that specialise in helping them.

The other 'sweetener' to accompany this bitter pill is that instead of 4 million given to youth services, which generally run centers and offer services that are available to all, the government is going to give 1.8 million to youth  charities. They do great things, as I said it was a charity that I worked for, but often with charities the work will be aimed at a particular group to the exclusion of others. Charities are required to bid for funding, so there is no guarantee that the money will go where it is most needed. If the worst and neediest area has no charity based within it to apply for some of that money then none is going to go there.

In the same news bulletin was the announcement that the Hindhead tunnel opened today.

This'll come in handy when no-one can afford a car anymore.

And we are also reported to be spending around NINE BILLION pounds on the various venues etc needed to host the Olympics next year.

Lately twisted priorities seem to be a bit of a recurring theme for me, but this, takes the proverbial fucking biscuit.
Lets invest in roads and stadiums to impress the rest of the world.
And who gives a fuck that our young people are fast becoming a wasted generation with nothing to look forward to apart from criminal records, drugs, unemployment, teenage pregnancy and prison.

We need to start making some serious investments in our schools, and that means paying teachers a decent wage as well as the buildings, and stop cutting back on the services that provide for those most in need.

When's the next election 'cos I think I'd make a much better job of running this country then the fuckwits doing it now.

If Americas's screwed then Britain is being royally fucked up the arse.


  1. Great post. No matter which country, without a focus on youth and education, this world is going to end up in the toilet.

  2. dirty, it's scary isn't it? being a canadian, i'm quite afraid of what will happen to our neighbours.

    they're throwing away the youth, sick and elderly, and what the hell is going to happen when they're old?

    the youth who are their age won't care ... b/c nobody cared about them ... and so on ...

    it's really scary

  3. Not long ago one of the cities in our city "did away" with youth homes. Street kids, out you go. The argument being they can go back home, or if over 16 they can go on welfare. Thank goodness they all had good homes to go back to. Yeah, right. It scares me if they choose to do that here. As it is they are closing a lot of the rehab clinics in the area. I think free rehab now has like a 6 month waiting list, because you know, not a priority or anything. If society does not realize that we are killing our future... well we soon will. Isn't there a saying about how societies should be judged by how it treats it's most vulnerable?

  4. We can't afford art or music in our schools much less after school programs. I love my country, but I love it like a brother that can't get his priorities straight and always asks to borrow money. I often find when I visit other places people want me to defend the stupid decisions my country makes. During the Bush administration a cab driver in Amsterdam actually started yelling at me about American policy that I personally had nothing to do with. There are stupid people everywhere and they get frightened like everyone else. We dwell on the small and negative, but there is no place like the place your from.

  5. i compare the usa [please don't forget, the usa is a very young country, and screwed up big early on] to a ill-behaved know-it-all teenager who makes foolish decisions, ignores the results, and bullies anyone who disagrees with any idea they have.

    this country needs a slap, and some healthy, intelligent re-directing.

    the rocket-into-the-sun direction "we" appear to be heading sometimes makes me feel like it's hopeless, but jeeshhh, what else can you do?

    keep thinking @ life's illogical absurdities in tiny nuggets-full...
    continue be a quality human, and trust that it will have a positive ripple effect.

  6. For a country that's pretty fucked, a hell of a lot of people are trying to go there. The USA receives more immigrants than any nation on earth - why do you suppose that is? And as for gay marriage, there are many countries in the world where being gay is illegal. The USA was one of the countries where the modern gay rights movement originated.

    It's easy to form a misleading view of a nation from TV documentaries that focus on problems. How do you think England would appear if someone went around filming the victims of knife crime or BNP supporters?

  7. We ARE royally fucked. And don't get me started on American obesity. I'm a size medium, and people always tell me how 'skinny' I am. I'm a fit guy with lean muscle and a flat stomach. I'm not skinny. In most other countries, I'd be a 'normal' size. I hate this fat ass country of mine. :(

  8. Hey dcg - how's you, its good to be back and good to hear from you!

    Your post is very close to my heart - I grew up on a council estate in a very rough part of the country and being a girl it helped me keep my head down and get through the teenage gang stages relatively unscathed as the majority of the kids were boys - I think if I would have been a boy then being able to say no and turn down offers to go robbing and taking drugs would have been a lot harder. Luckily for me I managed to move out to a better life - without anyone's help but my own hard work - but I still like giving to charities that help those trapped in poverty, not as fortunate as me, and lots of other kids and surprisingly animal charities too. I also enjoy nothing more than giving up my time to do voluntary work at a local young adult centre working with those affected by drugs.

    It is a shame that those born into riches cannot dig deeper and support those who are not.

    I am incredibly proud to be British, I think there is no place on Earth like England for its beauty and I will continue to do my bit to try and get the kids back on track.

    Power to the People and all that!!

    ...right cut her off she's babbling

  9. You hit the nail on the head DCG we are most certainly arse fucked, by this government and the previous . You may as well stand in front of a wall and shout your concerns at it, nobody will listen until this country implodes then it will be why didn't anybody tell us its not our fault! whilst shuffling backwards out of the country passport in the back pocket.

  10. You are absolutely right. The violence amoung young people and/or the human race in general is boggling to me. I mean, we are all cut from the same cloth man.

    Also, intolerance is jjust ignorance.

  11. I think it's just the whole fucking world that's screwed. That really sucks about all those government cuts. That's why I'm an anarchist. No laws. No taxes. Just scuba diving and spaghetti pizza. (My own invention.)

    You're right that America is a pretty messed up country, and there's no doubt that I'm the least patriotic person in the state of Georgia. I mean, it has some good stuff too, like movies and hamburgers and Obama, but everything else is pretty much like a bad dream. Still, it's not encouraging that the rest of the world scoffs at us. And all we can do is wallow in our own mild self-pity and feast on ice cream and bacon.

    Now that I'm following your blog, we have the EXACT same amount of followers. 139. I think that's weird.

    Also, I'm moving to England because I've been permanently banned from America. So yeah.

  12. @Andrea, It's very scary - I worry that we will end up going the same way as countries that have no welfare state.
    @Jamie, Thats very sad - and yeah there is but in that case I guess we're all doomed.
    @DL, I guess that's real patriotism, and it's a bit like being a parent. Loving your kid despite their faults.
    @Vi, How about you run for president there and I run for PM here. If we can't set the world to rights nobody can.
    @GB, I do know what you mean, TV coverage does tend to show the worst of places. I've long thought that we should have a 'good news' news prog just to redress all the negatives.
    @Beer, I think I may just emigrate if that's the case, bugger the diet just live somewhere where most people are HUGE.
    @Lee, I do agree, as a country we do have a bit of everything - and there are certainly worse places to live, but it makes me so angry that our government cannot get it right when it comes to public spending. We don't NEED stadiums and tunnels as much as our kids need a decent future. Good on you for what you do though :)
    @Kiki, yeah - so true. I bet the fucking politicians have all got homes in hot countries to run to as well.
    @GG, It is indeed. I'm gonna use that phrase.
    @TBG, Lets have the recipe then ? And yeah it might be, except I now have 140. lol. Also am looking for a lodger - £400pw and you get to do the washing up. Interested ?

  13. You would think the government would have sorted this problem out by now. It's fundamental! The thing is, these 'youths' who are getting pregnant are going to be creating offspring who turn out to exactly the same as their parents. It's a vicious cycle of deprivation!

  14. There was a woman in her mid-fifties or so coming out of the post office here in my town a year or so back. She had her arms loaded with packages as she came down the steps. She lost her footing and fell, packages tumbling everywhere.

    There must have been 20 or so people at that corner, most of them at middle age. Some looked, most didn't even turn. But a girl or 17 or 18 years helped the woman up and gather her packages. 17 to 18 years old, while those older and wiser and living in small town America, ignored.

    I have much more faith in our young people, these days. Overall, I find them more ethical that their elders.


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