Friday, January 18, 2008
Do we Need a New 'Transportation' Strategy for Teenage Yobs?
Reading stories like the one about the teenage killer on bail who persistently re-offended no matter what, prompted a connection with another article a few pages on detailing how a misbehaving German youth has been sent for nine months to a village in Siberia where he will have to fend for himself in a specially devised programme. I recall a taxi-driver in Los Angeles, who advised the way to beat gang crime in his city was to send all these anti-social members to a big island and force them to get along together. I was rather pleased, at the time, with my reply: 'It's been tried and it's called Australia.'
Anyone who has visited this wonderful country cannot fail to be amazed how it was effectively founded by convicts: the 18th and 19th century criminal urban under-classes of Britain. It took more than a few generations but it worked in the end and suggested that criminal tendencies are not genetic but are socially generated. Transportation ceased in the mid nineteenth century and such a severe option, quite rightly, is no longer available. However, we still seem to have no answer to the sort of behaviour inflicted by the 19 year-old Adam Swellings on the Newlove family. Whatever is done fails to solve the problem of extreme and violent behaviour and the vulnerable peaceful sections of society are forced to live with the consequent anxiety not to mention tragedies when made victims.
I just wonder if the Germans have not cottoned on to something here. We no longer have colonies to provide the setting but there are infinite amounts of unfriendly environments which would provide opportunities for such feral products of our imperfect western societies to discover the fundamentals of communal social life and redeem some of the the shortcomings in their own. Countries like Russia, Canada, parts of Africa and Asia might even capitalize on the advantages their unwelcoming interiors provide and set up settlements designed to reclaim the lost youth of the developed countries. Just an idea.
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