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What's the answer to child crime?

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The One Show Team | 15:48 UK time, Friday, 2 October 2009

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There were 6,000 crimes committed by children under ten, over the last three years in England and Scotland. No one could be held to account, because they're all under the age of criminal responsibility.

Justin Rowlatt has been exploring the issue.

Esther Rantzen told him that parents of child offenders should face criminal charges for neglect.

In Edinburgh, at a special police unit, he was told that "there's a misconception that we're about punishing children and that's really not the case. It's very much about identifying what the root cause is.

"Legislation dicates that we look at rehabilition, rather than punishing juvenile offenders".

Politician, First Minister, Alex Salmond said to Justin:

"We don't believe we should just lump in children with adults as criminals - we have to try and deal with the causes. We are determined not to see young people set into a cycle of crime and imprisonment.

"The approach we've taken is to intervene in the issue of parenting."

And finally, on the outskirts of Glasgow, Justin heard from two mothers that parents should be held responsible for the actions of their children - but that support should be available to families.

What is the answer to child crime? Is tackling the root causes enough? Share your views here.


  • 1. At 7:07pm on 02 Oct 2009, AprilKeech wrote:

    We should bring back the stocks for young children. A good dose of rotten fruit and veg plus the embarrassment of it all might make them think twice!

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  • 2. At 7:11pm on 02 Oct 2009, janeymadge wrote:

    I am a barrister, my husband is a company director. We dont abuse our children, drink, abuse drugs or behave in a sexually deviant manner. We spend much of free time with the children, supporting their out of school activities. They are both intelligent, sporty, fit children. They were also both bought up with good moral values and to have good manners. When in the company of our friends and strangers their behaviour is impeccable and we are complemented regularly on how lovely they both are. However one of them drinks, smokes, steals, truants and is only 14. I dont know whether the police will ever be involved in our lives because of our child's behaviour but I believe that children must, at that age, take responsibility for themselves and by punishing parents, the child is dodging the bullet.

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  • 3. At 7:11pm on 02 Oct 2009, Sparrowhawk1974 wrote:

    It is absolute rubbish to blame all parents for child crime. Whilst there are some parents who neglect their children most don't and do their level best to bring up their children the best way they can.

    Taking away responsibility from the perpetrator (the child) makes them believe that they can do what they want without having to accept responsibility for their actions.

    I cannot stand these people who say that a child is not inherently naughty but that their behaviour is; what are they being taught by this? So long as parents and schools do all they can to teach a child right and wrong then they become responsible for their own actions and there is no need for this ridiculous proposal.

    Go away Ms Rantzen, leave decent parents alone - there are times when you cannot possibly control what other people; even your children do.

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  • 4. At 7:13pm on 02 Oct 2009, omniduddster wrote:

    Children need strong dicipline and boundries. This can only be acheived by parents willing to put in the effort throughout their childrens' lives. Ferral parents are the cause of ferral children. Any parent not willing to offer the child the guidence and dicipline they require should be prosecuted and their offspring removed.

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  • 5. At 7:13pm on 02 Oct 2009, queenbobby2001 wrote:

    Why not bring back the cat... meow meow.

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  • 6. At 7:16pm on 02 Oct 2009, eminoxford wrote:

    As a primary school teacher - I would like to see parents being made much more responsible for the actions of their children. There should also be more investment in schemes such as 'sure start' to ensure that parents, who need it, are given support to become better parents. If you start early enough with children it is possible to turn things round, unfortunately in this country we tend to leave things until it is too late!!!

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  • 7. At 7:18pm on 02 Oct 2009, mrsbus wrote:

    It is great that parents who care about the welfare of their children would be prepared to actively encourage their children to be good. What about those parents who don't care, it is their (feral) children who will be left out thereby leaving us to suffer their bad behaviour.

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  • 8. At 7:21pm on 02 Oct 2009, thunderpugwash wrote:

    with rights comes responsibilities. People must again learn to take and accept responsibility for their own actions. In the mean time the social dogooders must be curtailed the appeasers must be stopped. If you do something wrong you must accept the punishment and the punishment should be exactly that "punishment" and not reward. When I grew up we were told to "Toe the Line" the line is so wide now you cant see where the edges are therefore people dont know when to stop. additionally because of the Governments facination with statistics, authorities need to achieve points as opposed to solve a problem. bring back responsibility, if not, expect the worst and lets see a deterrant at all levels. stop appeasing the dogooders and invoke and apply the laws of the land and let the Police do the job.

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  • 9. At 7:22pm on 02 Oct 2009, khayamanzi wrote:

    This thread is very much related to the one entitled 'who rules the classroom these day'! It really isn't rocket science, teachers are stressed predominantly because the parents who have no idea how to parent and have had no training whatsoever attempt to tell professional and highly trained teachers how to do their job, whilst young children learn from their parents that responsibility is irrelevant. Even using this blog and I had to agree to my 'rights and responsibilities' and yet parents increasingly have lots of rights but society shuns the fact that they have reponsibilites as 'politically incorrect'

    The solution? Find the best performing teachers who can have 35+ 11 year olds eating out of the palm of their hands whilst commanding respect and engaging them in learning, pay them well to teach and deliver training classes to parents in how to control their one or two children and give headteachers the legal powers and support to enforce parents to attend the classes - this ticks all the boxes:

    1) increases the government agenda of extended schools and involvement of parents in schools.
    2) shares expertise from serving practitioners to support parents in controlling their children and thus taking responsibility.
    3) raises the status of teaching as a skilled profession where parents can look up to with respect rather than disparaging scourn and fear, (often tainted by their own negative experiences of school,)and most importantly
    4) allows children to see schools and parents working in partnership for their good rather than, (as so often is the case,) against each other and so ultimately raises standards of social behaviour and inclusion

    WIN WIN ALL ROUND! Just a shame Ed Balls can't be bothered to speak to those who work daily at the coal face of education!

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  • 10. At 7:23pm on 02 Oct 2009, veraturner wrote:

    i have 2 sons both brought up the same
    one is now a it man in the city of london the other is at this very time is in h.m.p wormwood scrubs so which one do i take the credit for the good one or the bad one
    please tell me

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  • 11. At 7:27pm on 02 Oct 2009, grandadj wrote:

    How are parents nowadays supposed to bring children up correctly when the ability to discipline them has been taken away? Government and 'do-gooders' have removed much of the control which parents and teachers were able to exert in years gone by. When we were young, if we were misbehaving you could bet there would be a policeman nearby who would grab you by the scruff of the neck, give you a clip round the ear, and march you home to your parents where you would most likely get another clip. Now kids shout 'You can't touch me , I have human rights. Lay a finger on me and I'll have the police on you'.
    It's commonly stated that broken homes are a major cause of children going wrong - but how many kids were left without a father after both World Wars? There wasn't an epidemic of hooliganism then; kids didn't end up mugging old ladies or knifing each other then. Why? Because we had discipline and were not prohibited from exercising it. A good dose of discipline at the right time would work wonders. We should invoke 'zero-tolerance' in a lot of cases in society today.
    And before you ask - yes I am a father. Both my sons have children of their own so I've been there,done that. Not like a lot of critics who have never been in the position of being responsible for a child's behaviour.

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  • 12. At 7:28pm on 02 Oct 2009, abdyjones wrote:

    The problem today is that parents are often no better than their children, and if a child is regularly commiting crime, then the parents should be punished as well. Andy Jones

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  • 13. At 7:29pm on 02 Oct 2009, khayamanzi wrote:


    it's simple - you don't take 'credit' for either but you do take 'responsibility' for both!

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  • 14. At 7:35pm on 02 Oct 2009, kerrymr wrote:

    I'm a mother of four children. Three that are in high school and one that is in junior. My 14 year old boy is a perfect student and has top grades and my two youger girls are do well also. My 15 year old son has so far been arrested 6 times this year and is on a charge now and is going to crown court and is looking to go to a youth offenders for three years. I've been asking for help and even contacted social services and begged them for help but none. My family are going through hell and I wish there was something I could do. I've taught my children from right or wrong and they all have manors.
    Not in all cases are the parents to blame.
    I would love to hear from anyone that is going or have been though the same as I need help.
    I don't think it would do any good for my son to be put away but needs help instead.

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  • 15. At 7:41pm on 02 Oct 2009, akaFRANKLIN wrote:

    My two boys were brought up the same way,taught right from wrong, taught to respect others and their property,and that if wrong was done,own up and face the consequences.These are the basic requirement of growing up and accepting responsibility. One son, however, got in with a group of peers who did not have these social skills and did go off the rails in order to fit in. He was in trouble with the Police and had problems accepting disipline from people in authority. When he did something wrong he would come home and tell me about it, and on more than one occasion I took him to the Police Station and he admitted he had been involved. I did dispair for his future but because of the underlaying values that had been instilled, he did eventually realise that fitting in wasn`t that important and that the future had more to offer. Both my sons have good employement and a wide range of friends and I sleep soundly at night. Should I have been held responsible for my sons actions. Yes. I put myself in that position, and took steps to ensure he was held responsible also.

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  • 16. At 7:42pm on 02 Oct 2009, jennisophia wrote:

    Children learn most about relationship from the example set by their parents - and that example is, of course, dependent on their parents' early experience. "Do as I say, but not as do" is often implicit and very confusing. Parents must never forget they are the most influential role-models kids will ever have.

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  • 17. At 7:43pm on 02 Oct 2009, khayamanzi wrote:

    Kerrymr has hit the nail on the head in one aspect! The current social services adverts on TV are ludicrous where they attempt to portray a service where all problems can be solved over a cup of tea! I have worked in both the youth and education services for many years both in London and now in the West Midlands and have lost count the number of times parents have been, quite literally, in tears screaming for help and support and nothing is available. The government is not interested in pre-emptive measures as the results take time to come through - they are simply interested in seemingly instant re-acive solutions.

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  • 18. At 7:50pm on 02 Oct 2009, peter blyth wrote:

    Hi As a retired community police officer working on some of britiains challenging estates, I am now about to return to one of them to carry out a self made project to give the residents 100% loving kindness
    this is viewable on www.thewickproject.yolasite.com
    so take a look
    basically if the problem families are shown loving kindness it allows them to change from the inside themselves , being shown if you like another route of behaviour and its positive results
    this is working well and some of the worst behaved persons are actually taking it on board and changing

    maybe the one show would like to follow my progress ??

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  • 19. At 9:35pm on 02 Oct 2009, peter blyth wrote:

    maybe some one will listen to the people and get the government to take these projects on board instead of playing politics for votes

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  • 20. At 10:34pm on 02 Oct 2009, kerrymr wrote:

    peterbee99, I do hope that the government do listen to the people instead of just thinking about the votes.

    I'm sure there are alot of people like myself that need help and not being slated.

    abdyjones can I ask how many children do you have and how old are they???

    grandad j I really do agree with you

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  • 21. At 10:33am on 03 Oct 2009, royalhannah46 wrote:

    How dare Esther Rantzen make such a sweeping statement with regard to parental responsibility and juvenile crime and behaviour. My son is 12 years old and has developed a very rebellious attitude recently.

    Considering the fact that he has been given every possible opportunity and encouragement in life and I am a professional well educated person living in a good area, I am at a loss as to why this has happened and, indeed, terrified that he may not even get a basic education. Comments to the effect that I should be punished for my son's behaviour when I have done everything in my power to rememdy the situation leave me in total despair and make me feel very angry indeed. My heart goes out to others in a similar situation.

    Perhaps Ms Rantzen has been fortunate enough to have perfect children but I believe that it should be 'each case on its merits' with child behaviour and parental responsibility and my opinion has been formed through experience. The blame lies partly with society and the continuing downward spiral of morals and standards.

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  • 22. At 11:34am on 03 Oct 2009, nicevelofellow wrote:

    I was born in the crowed back streets of Manchester which contained every type of idiot under the sun. But they all understood when they shouldnt do it when it cost them pain. You can reason with them till your blue in the face but until you fight back you have got no chance.
    I honestly belive they are born like that from the type who would think nothing of torturing animals or poking you in the eye with a stick. I could pigeon hole them as i encountered them you could tell who would make a decent chap and who would be a curse on socity and finish up in and out of jail. And the thicker they are the more trouble they seem to be. You have to have a form of punisment in school spare the spoil the child its just knowing when to stop!

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  • 23. At 1:58pm on 03 Oct 2009, richbar78 wrote:

    I think Esther's idea is another example of us looking for a 'quick fix' instead of tackling the real causes of this kind of behaviour. As usual The One Show brings up an interesting subject, then because of time issues, or any real sincerity or desire they totally avoid talking about the problems in real depth.
    This is an economic and social problem that wont go away until we all take responsibility and come up with long-term solutions. Whole communities are being ignored, when people should be trying to communicate with,understand, then finally educate them to care about themselves, their neighbours and their communities as a whole. Unfortunately, long-term solutions require patience, communication, sincerity, and above all, the thing that people with power care about most, Money, all of which this country is in short supply.

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  • 24. At 6:03pm on 03 Oct 2009, sallyjoy wrote:

    Help must be available to families when a child is born.
    families no longer have the support of the extended family near them so need to have a friendly, practical and helpful advice service.
    Parents need to be taught how to cope with young children and the problems that can arrise. The heavy hand is not the answer
    Help and support at the very start is.
    remeber a child without boundries will keep pushing until they find them.
    Too many parents do not give the children the attention they need to feel loved and secure

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  • 25. At 7:36pm on 05 Oct 2009, fireyAnneMarie wrote:

    There is always hope for children who act out outside of the home if they and their family are given the right support. Children who have no boundaries or secure attachments are actually pushing the boundarys outwith the home and are unconsciously asking the wider community for help. Instead of punishing children lets get to the root of family problems and help the whole family which in turn will help the wider community and society as a whole. I find the attitude towards children in our society deplorable. Childrens behaviour is often a cry for help lets start helping.

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  • 26. At 7:29pm on 08 Oct 2009, NutNutDemon wrote:

    The answer is to get rid of the nanny state and return to the simple fact that you are RESPONSIBLE for your own actions and whatever the age, accept the punishment that the society you live in dictates...

    This is caused by the simple fact that parents are no longer allowed to discipline their children, teachers are not allowed to discipline children and nor can the Police take any action so they grow up thinking they are invincible until they hit their teens and suddenly find that they have been stabbed by another misfit that also thinks they are invincible.

    Corporal Punishment is NOT abuse in 99% of the cases, if it was then 99% of people over the age of 30 were abused by their parents, teachers, policemen etc, yet we seem to be able to live our lives normally.....

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  • 27. At 7:22pm on 13 Oct 2009, Holmstreau wrote:

    Bring back Borstal!

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