This morning, here in the UK, I heard a so called debate on the television about some proposed new scheme for warning the youth of today, including from 4 year olds and up about the dangers and warning signs of sexual abuse. To be funded by the government of course, I acknowledge that it is a very serious subject but it was the straw that just about broke this camel’s back. You might like to make a cup of tea first for this.
I won’t discuss that particular issue in detail as it is still only a proposal and hopefully common-sense will reign and it will be tackled more sensitively given its importance. My thoughts here are on parental and social responsibility in more general terms.
Firstly, to address the Nay Sayers of this world who will no doubt be the first to respond (if anyone does). I fully understand that there are always cases and circumstances where any generalisation that I may appear to address will-not and cannot apply. Although this small but important minority often makes the headlines, the bigger picture is just as important. To get the resources, backup and support that these genuine case deserve, society needs to stand up and take responsibility for themselves so that those precious and always limited recourses can be better directed.
There are so many areas where the principals I discuss can be applied but I will stick with the more obvious, hopefully for it to become evident for the rest.
Case One: The number of Children that are born in a family.
I have no problem what-so-ever with large families. My mother was one of nine, but, given the high street availability of contraception both general and advanced, why is it that many of these families are reliant on state benefits and all manner of other social aid? The more cynical side of me hears ‘keep having them luv and rack up the benefits’ but in many cases it is so true. The more reasonable side of me thinks that, if you can afford the family you want then have as many as you want! At least in recent years, all be it lip-service to the problem, child benefit is being limited a little; too little too late? I could repeat that phrase many time but will refrain from it if I can.
Case Two: Obesity, especially in children.
How, in all that is sensible, is it the responsibility of government for the type of food that is shoved into the mouths of ourselves and our children. I say ‘our’ children as I have had two and so am not very far above the situation while standing on this, my little soap box. The type of food, but mostly the volume of food is a growing problem. It is a proven fact that it costs as much at eat a balanced and healthy diet as it does to eat the absurd volumes of processed and nutritionally irrelevant food that so often fills the freezers and cupboards of the western world. I am almost driven to tears when I listen to proposals for a Sugar Tax to deter the sales of sweets and sugar laden baked beans and the like. When ever did a hike in price ever stop people doing or having things, they just go without something sensible or even worse options. Why are we, the public, funding gastric bands for teenagers? Why are school children having to go to a breakfast club? Why are schools being undermined over promoting healthy school dinners? We have all hear of Jamie Oliver’s school dinner campaigns, those parents who were bringing McDonalds (many other fast foods are also available to deride) to the school fence to placate their nutritionally uneducated children’s palettes should surely face criminal proceedings!
Which leads me neatly onto the next case.
Case Three: Self-inflicted medical issues.
You can find on late night television almost every night, ‘entertainment’ programmes about our hard presses police, fire and ambulance services tackling the stupidity of drunken irresponsibility and worse on our streets. Disappointingly I am realistic enough to know that you will never get certain layers of society to accept responsibility for themselves, that unfortunately has always been a lost cause. Let me illustrate a point of responsibility; some years ago, I was unfortunate to have a collision on my car, (there are no such things as accidents remember), an unsuspecting road worker stepped backwards in-front of me where there was no time or room to avoid a coming together. The young chap was fortunately unhurt and no damage to the car, not that that mattered. After the embarrassment for the guy when his foreman made him strip almost to his underwear to check for physical damage, there being none we exchanged details and all went on with our day. Two weeks later, I had a letter that was a bill for the ambulance that the foreman had decided he needed to call, just in case. I had no problem with the bill but it illustrates how we seem to be going backwards in our thinking on such things; you won’t get a bill now where I think you still should. Why do sensible members of what is supposed to be a civilised society have to foot the bill for drunk people causing a public nuisance, drug addicts who refuse help to get off their addiction, clinically obese people who refuse to address their diets, people requiring operations but refuse to give up smoking or drinking or many other situations that you can easily identify.
I will reiterate my earlier submission that there will always be genuine cases that are out of an individual’s control and I am fully supportive of those, it is these that should be getting the resources that are, in my opinion, being wasted on those who self-inflict.
Case Four: Being polite.
It is easy to push this subject away with the old potato of it being a ‘generational thing’ but how rotten that potato is going to be in the very foreseeable future; if not already. When and where did that basic civilised concept of Respect disappear? I’m not talking about the Emily Bronte type lords and ladies contrived and protracted protocols but it is something of a rarity now to hear a simple Please or Thank You. Personally I press the point whenever I can and will often make a show of an individual if only for my own satisfaction. From such little acorns, civility might grow rather than the slide towards the lowest common denominator, as are so many things and I stand by an old but timeless adage that I was bought up with, “If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.” How much easier it is not do something rather than actively offend, abuse, swear and disrupt. This ties into the next case; and the last for now anyway.
Case Five: Discipline.
What happened to the concept of being punished and accepting it, for doing something wrong? I have to say for the cynical reader, I have done plenty of things that I shouldn’t have, but you will never have heard me complain about any justifiable punishment. My further comments come from observing five generations in my lifetime; my grandparents, my own parents, me and my siblings and now own children plus their youngsters. What a terrible and escalating downward step change there has been over that time in the attitude towards other people in general. This now so often falls to ‘passing the buck’ where it’s social services fault, the government for not providing facilities, the television stations for showing violent films, video games that make mass murder a thing of fun; everybody but those that it is. Keeping up with the neighbours or school mates for the latest tech often foregoing everyday living basics. Worse of all, mistakenly thinking that so many things in this life are a right, when really they are a privilege; I could write a blog on that one alone (perhaps I will). Just one example, taking children out of school in term time to go on holiday. If you have children in school are you really happy to deny them a block of their education for a few hours of sun? Some will pay the fine as it’s often still cheaper than the inflated prices of holiday weeks but think nothing of the effect on those that they should be responsible for. Fines mean nothing to most whereas two weeks in the sun or two weeks at her Majesty’s pleasure? You might guess which I would advocate,;but still have them pay the fine and upkeep while behind bars if I could get away with it; (another blog brewing there I think).
If you have read this far, congratulations; not many will have I’m sure.
Call me a ‘grumpy old man’ if you wish, I have broad shoulders but even those are crumbling in despair of a society that is going to have to somehow manage itself and the anarchy that is going to overwhelm us as the generations move forward.