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Earlier today, I came across this video of a young boy in America who had been caught by the police for drinking under the legal age of 21. It made me chortle a little, but with all humour aside, the seriousness of the issues arising from the clip (parental involvement, education, mental health care etc), indicate that so much needs to be done to help support disadvantaged kids and give them more opportunities to better their lives. But of course, they need to be willing to help themselves first.

I, like many others who watched this, thought: “Where the hell are his parents?”. It’s obvious that the teen is from a broken home. It’s probable that from a very young age he was left to his own devices and certain acts of deviance have become the norm to him.  He’s emotionally torn and needs guidance or some sort of counselling. As much as he protests that he wants to go to prison, rather than juvenile hall, jail-with that mouth- will most definitely send him on the path of  destruction. His situation is not unique. Without sounding patronising, it’s a sad state of affairs.

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Picture the following scenario if you may. A young lady going home (East London) on a dark winters evening- say around 7- from a long day at university. An African-Caribbean guy on his bike shouts “Oi, oi, oi, oi” as he rides past speedily almost startling this young lady. After mumbling a few words of discontent under her breath she gets over the near miss. To her dismay, the guy on his bike- now roughly 15 feet ahead-  looks back at her and does a u-turn. He approaches her on his bike, cycling around her. “You ‘aight baby?” He asks her with a slight patois in his voice. She ignores him. “Hello?, hello?”, he says still desperately trying to get her attention. “Can you leave me alone?”, she responds. “What?” he replies sounding upset at the dismissal. “You think you’re too pretty?”, he asks before gathering a mouthful of saliva and spitting on the left hand side of her face and in her eye. As she she reflexively swirls to her right in shock at what had just taken place- common assault- the offender rides off on his pedal bike faster than someone at the gym determined to lose a few pounds in one session.

Earlier today BBC London news reported the rise of sexual assault in London, with almost 100 reported cases of gang rape in the capital within the last year.

Two men who assaulted a girl aged 16 and doused her in caustic soda, disfiguring her for life, had their sentences increased on appeal.

In another case a 14-year-old girl was repeatedly raped ‘as punishment’ by nine members of a Hackney gang because she had ‘insulted’ their leader.

Deputy Chair of the London Assembly Jennette Arnold says that many young black men simply don’t have respect for females. That is certainly clear from all the above offences.

If you’re wondering who the young lady in the scenario was, it was me. The incident took place earlier this week only one minute away from my home. It left me more disillusioned with the behaviour of some young (black) men rather than shaken. Having been through 10 times more mental trauma in my young life, I suppose I found it fairly easy to deal with. That and the fact that my fiancé was there for me immediately after the incident. Even though he chased after the guy on the bike I’m glad he didn’t catch him because consumed with anger, his retaliation could have legally complicated the situation. The fact that I’m in a stable relationship allowed my general view of men not to be altered. After all, it’s unfair of me to tarnish all men with the same brush just because one imbecile showed utter disrespect to me.

Spitting is nasty, full stop but the sexual nature of his approach just made my skin crawl. To be honest, he belongs in the jungle if he considers that as being acceptable behaviour.  I mean, who honestly goes out of their way to do something like that?

I suppose by spitting on me, he thought I would feel degraded but I’m far too inwardly content with myself as an individual to let anyone make me feel worthless.

Without being patronising to myself, it could have been far worse. I could have been punched, slapped or kicked as well, or more seriously raped.

I don’t want to make it a race issue but unavoidably I was assaulted by a black male. I hate to say it but the stereotype prevailed. I could sit here all day debating, analysing and dissecting all possible explanations as to what may have driven him to behave in such a manner but I’d rather use my energy on something worthwhile that I can actually make a positively impact in mine or other people’s lives.

Of course, I reported the incident but only 10 minutes after it happened because felt that dialing 999 at the time would have been an futile attempt for the police to catch him, especially as my description of him was so vague. Unfortunately, the assault will probably just go down as another statistic of a reported but unsolved case. Although it may have been a one-off incident, I’ll definitely be investing in a personal noise alarm.

Useful links/numbers:

Police switchboard: 03001231212

Directgov page on rape and sexual assault

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gun-hiding-poster

Anti-gun-hiding poster

According to information compiled by charities and the police, teenage girls accept rape as a  normative part of joining violent male gangs.

Some are forced into to having sex with many of the gang , ferrying guns, knives and drugs without even questioning the fact that they’re being violated.

Last month, Police in London launched an add campaign warning that young women who hide guns and knives for their gangster boyfriends risk going to jail. The posters (left) were designed in an attempt to help prevent shootings in London by urging young women not to conceal weapons.

The campaign, aimed primarily at black teens, was launched in the light of the increasing amount of young women convicted for possessing weapons in the last year.

Like most of these type of campaigns, I don’t think it will work. Girls in gangs is nothing new. Some people defend the young girls by saying they feel pressurised into carrying weapons for their gang-member boyfriends.

Yes, they’re treated as second class citizens and subordinates to their male counterparts but-and I may sound cold- most of them know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. People will only treat you how you let them.

Prevention, as they say, is better than cure. Stay in school ladies, and earn yourselves a promising future. I’m tired of people blaming organisations, charities and the police. What’s wrong with these girls taking responsibility for their own lives?

It’s easy to throw money at a situation: glossy add campaign, more funding for charities but if these girls don’t want to genuinely help themselves how can anyone else help them?

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Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani

The 40th anniversary of the “stirrings of the internet” >>> http://bit.ly/28Vi5Q

Doom and gloom as figures reveal Britain is still in the recession >>> http://bit.ly/113rWM

Ex-deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Brian Paddick expresses his fears over armed police patrolling estates >>> http://bit.ly/3vqZnY

Jan Moir writes an apology to Stephen Gately’s family >>> http://bit.ly/S95hy

Has Gwen Stafani’s softened down her image since becoming a mum? >>> http://bit.ly/1BO06G

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]50 Cent at last night’s London premier of new film Dead Man Running >>> http://bit.ly/3dBrZR

As the media tally up the 15th murdered victim of violent youth crime of 2008, the government unveils a £3 million advertising campaign against knife crime.

The posters, which feature graphic images of real injuries inflicted from such attacks, are hoped to shock youth into realising the reality, severity and fatality of knife crime. Real images such as a knife piercing through a victim’s skin are amongst some of the emotive images featured. The government have also posted a reconstruction of a street stabbing on social networking sites in the hope that such shock tactics will prove effective in deterring such crimes.

The truth of the matter is that the youth of today are numb to such images because in a society where they have access to mediums such as violent video games and the internet, which admittedly contain far more disturbing images, it has become the norm to them. Yes, the government must appear to be doing something about the situation, and indeed yes the campaign is a tick in the box of Parliament’s to do list, but I doubt it will actually save lives. These images shock parents not the youth.

I’m sick and tired of people blaming communities: “There aren’t enough youth clubs”, “There isn’t much for youth to do.” My take on that? Absolute rubbish. As someone who from the age of 17 was forced to look after myself with no support or role model, I think it’s just a poor excuse. The facilities are there but for some reason the youth refuse to take advantage of them and opt for criminal activities that provide cheap thrills. To them going to the library or community centre is seen as ‘uncool’. To them street cred carries more value than academic success.
In theory, I was the perfect candidate to be sucked into that dark world of violent gangs: no guidance, little money, little power etc. But I found things to do with my time i.e. focusing on education and my career.

I knew where I wanted to go in life and it wasn’t a four -letter word that begins with J and ends in L. What happened to young individuals taking responsibility for themselves and their own actions? Going out there and making something of their lives; being innovative?

Statistics claim that those involved in such crimes come from working class, low-income, single parent families. Is this an excuse for the current climate of youth crime? If so, again, it’s a poor one.

Some say the parents are to blame. Parents who, for example, work such long hours that the only time they get to see their children, if at all, is late at night when they return home. Parents of whom have failed to establish the key foundations of regular communication with their children from an early age and therefore think that it’s the responsibility of their community to bring up their child and instil in them sound morals and respect. These children crave acceptance and a sense of belonging and unfortunately some end up finding it in violent gangs, leaders of whom become their role models.

This spate of cold-blooded murders infuriates me to the point of disbelief. Unless this ‘badge of honour’ mentality of these youths stops, the media’s tally will continue to rise. Unfortunately, I think things will have to get far worse in order to get better.