War Memorial Gary Trouton

Straight Talking

July 2007

The Grumpy Old Man looks at Anti-social behaviour in the village.

Another month has gone by so quickly, we are now fully into the longer lighter evenings and soon we will be into the school holidays, children will be out playing in the park or some of the older children will go down to the river or the common to do what children do, however a small minority of children will do their level best to make the life of some of the residents a living hell, causing, as the police categorise, low level petty crime.

To date residents have reported fences being broken, graffiti on fences, flowers and other plants ripped out of the ground, they will knock on the doors of some of the villages older residents and run away (we used to call it knock down ginger), generally they will spent the entire six weeks being a pain in the backside. The residents of Oak Road and Border Road have received most of this mindless vandalism and have, quite rightly, reported it to the police. The police come out with the usual unhelpful remarks like they are unable to do anything unless they catch them or names are given.

Now some of the residents in Oak Road and Border Road are campaigning to have the footpath from the park into Oak Road closed and, I presume, if successful they would also campaign to close the path that connects Manor Road to Border Road. This has resulted in a counter campaign by other residents to keep this path open. I, surprisingly, am sitting on the fence on this one. I can see both sides of the problem. No one should have to put up with vandals ruining their property, no one should have to put up with children late at night causing a disturbance outside their front door and no one should have to put up with having their windows broken, as was the case with at least one elderly resident of the village. On the other hand, why should other residents be denied a suitable route to the school / community centre. For the residents of Manor Road and Fairfield Road this footpath is safe and convenient way to getting to the school.

What surprises me the most is that when I speak to people about this they have actually told me the names of some of those involved. Obviously I cannot publish any names here, and nor can I imply any names here, that would be inappropriate and illegal. If these children's names are known why have they not been reported to the police? Why have the parents not taken action against their children? These parents would be the first people on the phone to the police if someone came round to their house and destroyed their fence or pulled up flowers and plants from their gardens. As I mentioned in an earlier issue one delightful boy was caught urinating over the play equipment in the park, when I was told this is was totally disgusted. The play equipment was put there for children to play on, who wants to let their children play on a piece of equipment that some child has used as a toilet. There does seem to be a total lack of respect for people and property by a few ill mannered individuals.

Over the past 5 years or so I have noticed an increased police presence in the village, more often than not a car will drive through the village at least once a day, but they rarely stop, they certainly never take the time to get to know the people of Stoke Ferry. There does seem to be a lack of respect towards the police by both children and adults alike. Adults have little respect because the police treat acts of vandalism as petty and children because they have not been taught respect by their parents. Don't get me wrong in all this, once upon a time I was a child and yes I got into trouble occasionally but what prevented me from getting into real trouble was the chance my mum would find out, anything the police could do to me was nothing, compared to what my mum would do. Today that has all gone, I hear things like "what can you do" or "my child would never do that", well to those parents I say you can do something and yes your child would do that. Perhaps if people were made more accountable for their actions or the actions of those in their charge then things would change for the better. Perhaps if those children were made to clear up the mess they created they would think twice, perhaps if the parents of these children had to pay for the damage their kids caused they would teach their children to respect people and property.

Respect isn't just something that should be taught at home, it should be taught in schools. I remember going to the James Bradfield school on the occasion of Mr Young's retirement, after, I spoke to a parent and she kept referring to him as Mr Young, when I asked her why she referred to him so formally she replied that she always called him Mr Young as he used to be her headmaster, she didn't particularly like him but she did respect him. Respect has to be earned by everyone but, unlike my solicitor, it costs nothing.

Grumpy Old man

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