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Reclaim our children

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Guy Smith | 20:14 UK time, Monday, 10 May 2010

It's not every day you come across people who really impress you. But, today I was at a news conference for the launch of a DVD series on personal safety called "Watch Over Me".

Margaret and Barry Mizen were just those people. They're the parents of Jimmy, who yesterday would have been 18. He was killed exactly two years ago in a bakery shop in Lee, south east London.

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They sat in front of a bunch of hard-bitten hacks in the Scotland Yard press room to tell us about 10 films, based on real-life stories. It's hoped the latest series, made by the charity Kids Taskforce, will be shown in secondary schools here in London and across the UK.

Both parents showed a deep understanding of the issues rather than any residual anger or bitterness to the teenager, Jake Fahri, who killed Jimmy.

Barry Mizen told me you will never solve the issue of teenage violence overnight.

He said: "There are no instant answers. Yes 11 (teenagers) have died so far this year and if it goes the way it has done in previous years, the chances are there will be 10 young people in London alive now, who won't be by the end of the year.

"Let's use that shocking thought to say we want to bring along changes. Harsher punishment won't do it. Bigger deterrants won't do it on it's own."

Margaret Mizen, who's the mother of seven sons and two daughters, called on the leaders of the three main political parties to come together to tackle violence in the capital.

She said: "The three party leaders, please all of you work together on this issue. We keep working for peace around the world but we have no peace on our streets. We need to reclaim our children."


  • Comment number 1.

    This story is so very sad.
    I hope that the series (made by the charity Kids Taskforce) will indeed be shown in secondary schools here in London and across the UK, perhaps even in the honour of "Jimmy".
    I wish you'd told us some more about what the parents felt were the issues. I think that the main issue is a calous disrepect for life - all living things. When a disrespect for life combines with a sense of entitlement arguments are bound to ensue, arguments that easily turn violent and even deadly.
    Let's take this one step further:
    - disrespect for life +
    - sense of entitlement add
    - boredom +
    - a society that is pervaded with senseless crime (including computer games and TV) and you get an alienated young offender who doesn't really doesn't care what he does or whom he hurts.
    There are no instant answers, but I suspect a sense of self-worth and purpose are pivotal to the seperation of juveniles from delinquents.
    Bringing change must entail a sense of self-worth and the worth of every other living thing. Bringing change must bring change to the psyche of the young offender from boredom (for example) to purpose.
    I don't know if this matter can be solved by political parties from the top down; I think it must be solved from grassroots - from the bottom up. It's a community thing; it's a village thing. It's starting early and raising a child right, right from the beginning. This is how we reclaim our children: we love them unconditionally. We make time for them; We give them our attention. We mentor them. We give them purpose. We care...

  • Comment number 2.

    Frankly, I feel it's all a bit too late. If somehow family could be restored to the backbone of community life, even though couples are marrying later and waiting longer to have children, then I think we may still be in with a chance. But this presupposes that a cohesive community exists which in crowded cities is increasingly rare.

    So it's very difficult to see how we could start to put this broken society back together. I'm not at all sure turning to the politicians is the answer....I would have thought we needed less reliance on the State and learned to take responsibility and work things out for ourselves.

  • Comment number 3.

    i think that the problem is the children dont have anything to do thats way do turn to crime

  • Comment number 4.

    Downwind13: Barry and Margaret Mizen talked about parenting skills and the need to train new mothers and fathers on how to look after their child, from the basics of changing a nappy to teaching them the difference between right and wrong.
    Bluesberry: Mr Mizen, who is a school governor, also spoke about schools delivering uniformed citizenship programmes and personal, social, educational systems. He said that currently teachers, who moved jobs, faced having to learn a different approach each time. He suggested that if you could identify where it was effective and achieving results, then that good practice should be shared and repeated across primary and secondary schools.
    He also said there were too many disparate organisations attempting to help solve violent crime on our streets, rather than a direct, one stop delivery programme. He suggested that we learn the lessons of what is working and then focus the resources into that.

  • Comment number 5.

    Guy: If parents need to learn parenting skills who is going to teach them? Are we really so hopeless as individuals that we have to look to the State to provide such training? Isn't this one of the most fundamental reasons why our society has failed? What has happened to the role of grandparents? I guess most people do have a father and a mother? Look around the world and those people who are far, far less fortunate than ourselves, and they are able to keep families together. In fact you don't have to go all that far to find where family life is paramount...where families eat and leisure together, and where grandparents are authority figures..FRANCE!

  • Comment number 6.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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