One mother, whose 13-year-old daughter goes to a school where a pupil has been shot to death, has saved up to buy her child of the best vests available after she was targeted by a gang of older girls. She is now saving up for another vest for her 11-year-old daughter who has also been abused by the gang.
Too scared to give her or her daughter’s real name, the woman, a chemical engineer, explained why she felt she had to resort to buying body armour.
“My daughter is being attacked by girls who are much older than her and the problem is continuing. I have never seen them with a knife but you never know when they are going to use a gun or knife until it is too late.
“The vest is very expensive and we do not have a lot of money but I have no choice. My daughter has been attacked five times in a few weeks and I would rather be safe than sorry."[...]
Camila Batmanghelidjh, who works with disadvantaged children at the charity Kids Company, says she can fully understand the parents' concern and warns that street violence is only going to get worse.
“I see kids of nine who are drug dealing and by ten they are carrying knives, that is not unusual. I have been doing this for eleven years and things at street level are definitely worse now.“I don’t think vests are a solution as you can get stabbed or shot in the neck.”
Are these parents overreacting? Not really. It seems that scarcely a week goes by without some fresh outrage perpetrated by schoolchildren against other schoolchildren. As the mother quoted above says, it's better to be safe than sorry, and you can no longer rely on teachers or the police to act to defend your children. It's also interesting that the main reason for Miss Batmanghelidjh's objection to this is not that it's unreasonable, but that a mere vest does not provide sufficient protection.
Of course, this is symptomatic of the decline of discipline in schools and, perhaps even more importantly, among society at large. It also reflects the fact that criminals are often left unpunished, while victims who fight back, such as Tony Martin or Linda Walker, are treated as criminals. The problem will continue to get worse until we return to punishing criminals, and allow law-abiding citizens the right to use any force they deem necessary to defend themselves.
Still, I suppose that Iain Dale would say that all this is a sign of society "moving on" and that we should embrace that change.Update: Two stories from the Daily Express provide a further insight into what is going on in our state schools. The first shows that the 'blame the victim' culture that sent Tony Martin and Linda Walker to prison has also infected the school system, as bullied children who fight back are often expelled themselves, while the bullies are left free to do as they please.
The second reports on the increasing number of cases where school gangs demand "sexual favours" from their victims, in exchange for protection. Something of a change, and not a welcome one, from stealing other childrens' lunch money. But always remember, society's moving on. So everything must be fine, really.