The recent violence that took place last week, on Wednesday 26th June 2020, at the Street party at Angell Town Estate in Brixton, has got me thinking again about the safety of our youth and our community. As a parent of teenagers, I sometimes worry about the state of affairs in our community and in our young people. Member of the community stated that the street party which started peacefully, eventually escalated to violence when other people from other areas joined in. Attacks took place and some people including the police were harmed. It could be argued that there is no place for the youth to socialise, one mother even confirmed that she is in the process of campaigning for a new youth centre because the youth do not have anywhere to "hang out". In my thoughts, I wondered about the number of people present at the party... the report stated 400! I understand the government has eased lock down at the moment but it is worth remembering that Covid- 19 has not yet gone away, there is still a possibility of a second peak! A number of questions were racing through my head such as, how did these party goers, maintain the 2 metre social distancing guideline? Did they all wear masks or any form of face covering? It didn't seem that way...
As a parent and a reasonable member of the society, I condemn any form of violence. Gathering of such magnitude, should be frowned upon especially during this difficult time the country is currently going through - a pandemic! As a community, it is paramount we all work together to ensure a safe and happy living.
How could we support our youth to live a violence free life?
Family unit & Solid foundation: Studies shows that children who grew up in an unhealthy household and witnessed violence acts, are most likely to repeat what they see, even when they are told by their parents or loved ones not to be violent, they tend to practice what they see. Such children tend not to listen to their parents but would rather make friends on the streets, and often drop out of school to hang out with such ‘friends’. The advice here for us parents, is to "practice what we preach". Also to watch and pray for the youth so they don't get involved in criminal activity. It is an on-going task.
Education / Apprentice: - Getting a good education promotes the lives of the youth. Knowledge is powerful and has the ability to deliver positive outcomes throughout the life of a young person. Going to school opens up a whole new world as to what they can achieve. Learning is constant and students are constantly being challenged in tackling topics that are new to them. Some days will be good; other days would be a challenge. Youth should be advised to learn from their mistakes and apply what they have learnt to their personal and professional life.
As parents, we should do our utmost best to give our children a solid education. I believe that one of the best things we can give our children is a good education. This would launch them to greater opportunities in life. Skills such as time management, social and organisation techniques would be enhanced. Youth Apprenticeships are becoming popular too (thanks to organisations championing the initiative, understanding that education is not for everyone) soon, the youth would improve in life skills including communication, by continually interacting with others. When these skills are being developed in the youth they will feel empowered and would leave no time for idleness, constantly playing video games or becoming a member of a gang culture.
It is also good to know that the Youth and Education Support Team (YEST) provide alternative provision to young people at risk of permanent exclusion from mainstream education. They support the youth by providing interventions, and therapeutic services, counselling and community activities, which are supported by qualified social workers, mentors, youth workers, and volunteers.
The support team helps the youth to develop key skills, confidence, motivation and essential skills needed in the workplace, education or further education or training. The young people are encouraged to take responsibility for themselves and build the life they would like, rather than the unpleasant one they had found themselves in.
Respect: - For self and others, especially those in authority – the youth should understand that the police are there to do a job of protecting the public from danger and keeping the community safe. This is where a good family upbringing is vital, as it indicates that if the youth grew up respecting elders in the family unit and people of authority, then that same respect that was instilled in
them at a young age, would translate to the respect they would give in their schools, colleges, workplace or in the community. Charity does begin at home according to a proverb - a wise saying 😊
Values: - This is about knowing right from wrong and having a good moral compass. I have often referred to my faith here whenever I wanted to explain values. I believe that parents should teach their youth values from a young age. I have used quote such as “Treat others the same way you would like to be treated” or Train up a child in the way he / she should go, he would not depart from it when old!” meaning if you instil values from a young age and even if the youth gets distracted and go astray at some point, it would hopefully be for a short time, because they would soon return to their well mannered behaviours.
Social media: - Youths should avoid spending too much time on media watching violence video games or TV shows. These types of games geared towards young people focus on imitation and fear. Not all children who watch such games become violent but for some, they depend on such violence games and shows, to 'help' them learn about ways of coping with life challenges or dealing with an issue from other video games. One way of supporting our young people through this, is to limit screen times. I noticed my son can be addictive to video games so I started taking away the remote control and head set after a certain time. Also, I stopped him playing the games during the week days so he could concentrate on his school work. He is always keen to remind me of giving him back the items when the weekend starts! When he has been of bad behaviour, I would often use the removal of the games, as a punishment which always works! Parents should find a tactic that works for them and their children, but remember their mental health is paramount.
Gangs: - Parents and loved ones should constantly advise their youth of the danger of joining a gang. The knowledge is that youth join the gang to feel cool and would often perform stupid acts such as fighting, to prove to their friends that they are strong or be seen as a hero. Another reason for joining the gang is due to loneliness, where the youth feel that the only protection they have, is by becoming a gang member, which often leads to trouble. As parents and loved ones, it is our duty to constantly communicate with our youth and through that channel, we would identified issues they face and would endeavour to advise them better. It is common knowledge that a lot of parents are not aware of their children's whereabouts. Discussions with my children has confirmed this - some youth feels their parents don't seem to care where they go (as long as they tell them "I am going out with friends"). It is worrying when our young people feel that way and conclude that they can find safety and recognition from gang members. The lessons here is for parents to show interest in what the youths get to and where they visit.
Consequences: - Understand there are consequences for the actions that they take. The planned street party had led to an unpleasant experience of violence; with broken glasses and plastic. 27 police officers were injured, their cars smashed, 5 people were later arrest and 3 charged over the street violence.
In conclusion, let's teach our youth how to respect one another and show kindness not hatred. They should treat others how they would like to be treated. Children should be taught about discipline and value in life.
How would you prevent youth violence?
Which of the sub headings resonated with You? Share your views.