Last Updated: Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:23 am (KSA) 07:23 am (GMT)

Dina Al-Shibeeb: Poor parenting in the spotlight post London riots

With a cup of English tea and homemade Middle Eastern honey-glazed Baklava, I settle in to be entertained by Britain’s local TV channels.

Aside from the hilarious antics of the British stand-up comedian Omid Djalili, the channels are rife with heated debate and political talk.

Britons are now debating the feasibility of a proposed punitive measure against those that participated in the recent four-day riots, looting shops and setting fire to businesses and homes. The measure entails evicting rioters from government-subsidized homes.

In the wake of riots, commentators have blamed lax parenting as the indirect reason behind teenage hooliganism. I remember reading a story during the height of the riots in the widely-circulated free daily newspaper “The Metro,” in which a mother thought her twins were at the gym pumping iron when they were, in fact, on a looting spree.

I can’t help but wonder whether the UK government will evict the sick and the aging grandmothers/grandfathers, or are the families just assumed to be plainly broken?

During the debates, in which many social indicators were discussed, I was surprised to learn that the UK has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in Europe despite teenage girls having access to condoms without parental consent.

What kind of parenting can a 14-year-old mother give to her own child?
Clear double standards have been put into perspective too.

People are talking about shorter jail terms for bankers and MPs caught in fraud versus longer sentences of young rioters caught stealing trainers...
Another hot topic is not criminalizing or convicting police officers and how crimes in the forgotten ‘lower-classes’ neighborhoods has not really being investigated.

There are a host of different issues behind the riots.
It’s important to differentiate between the person who looted chocolate bars, water bottles, and might have joined the crowd for ‘fun’, and another who ran over people.

At the end, the youth needed incentives, opportunities, and role models (family or government) in addition to a moral backbone to steer clear of rioting. Clearly, parents, the government and the police – who were unable to curtail the extent of the mayhem -- have all been held responsible.

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