When an 11 year old lad playing football with his mates gets gunned down in the street, you do wonder what the fuck the worlds coming too. Although gun crime is still quite unusual in the UK , it is showing a disturbing trend within some inner city areas , whereby young males feel the need to be armed to gain the respect of their peers. How times have changed, in my day it was who had the biggest flares , in my teens it was who’d dare stick a safety pin through their ear.
I spent many years working within Liverpool and their jubilation at winning the city of culture bid led to a total glossing over of the City’s problems. Council leaders at the time would just not engage with the City’s youth group leaders or listen to their problems other than on a purely superficial level . This would lead to neat media friendly sound bites which were willingly devoured by The “Liverpool Echo” who would then proceed to tell the world how great Liverpool was. As their noses grew bigger they would prattle on about the fact we don’t really have too much of a problem with street crime and violence, compared to other city’s of our size, as if this alone justified doing absolutely nothing to address the well documented behaviour of criminal elements within the city. If a statement or viewpoint didn’t include a positive spin on the city regarding The Beatles, football or that famous sense of humour the City Councils attitude was tantamount to shoving their fingers in their ears and shouting “lalala I cant hear you.” The mindset that prevailed within Council chambers was one of smugness and arrogance , yes, as with all public sector bodies there were of course, funding issues ,(oddly though there was always plenty of money available for consultants from SOLACE , who it transpired had (allegedly) been old University chums with number of Chief Officers within Liverpool ) but their refusal point blank to discuss anything they deemed “negative” was quite frankly, bonkers.
To be fair Liverpool is not the only city with such problems, Manchester and London have also revealed statistics which show an alarming increase in knife crimes and shootings and this of course is something which really does have to be addressed.
So whats going on? Has rap music made guns cool ? Violent video games ? Negative male role models ? Well it may be that the producers of such games and the musicians who glorify the gun may have to take a slightly more responsible attitude in future, as of course will parents ( A game has an 18 certificate because , guess what Mums and Dads ? Its only suitable for over 18’s) However state censorship has never really solved anything and the majority of normal well adjusted people in society could listen to rap till their ears were raw and play a “shoot ’em up” video games till their eyeballs crossed and not go out on a Columbine-esque shooting spree.
The Daily Mail of course would have you believe that every young person is a potential mugger, that all teenagers are in gangs fighting “turf wars” and that anybody wearing a hooded top is either a mugger or one of Lord Voldemort’s “death eaters” but in the real world this simply isn’t true, this just feeds into the culture of fear , leaving teenagers feeling even more alienated than ever. The media should afford our younger citizens a little more respect, the majority of teenagers are polite, thoughtful , (if a bit stroppy ) and don’t indulge in recreational Anti-Social behaviour. I’ve met many a crusty old buffer who has been far ruder, surly and anti social than your average teenager .
These shootings have little to do with teenage gangs per-se , to label them as such could appear to hand them the sort edgy, lawless notoriety they crave. This may well be about the media created culture of the moron and the wannabe, a world in which the media pays homage to minor celebs because they wear an item of jewelery which costs more than your average 3rd World counties national debt , the cult of you don’t have to have a talent to be famous …or even a brain.. and the bullshit of the Gunz n’Bitchez “Get Rich or Die Trying” philosophy.
“If you cant be famous be infamous”
Except these cowardly thugs wont even be infamous , the only feelings they engender are ones of repugnance and pity
To quote Mr Jones, the father of 11 year old victim, Rhys.
“It shouldn’t be a case of wrong time, wrong place …. It just shouldn’t happen.”