Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hail May

I saw X-Men today but I saw stranger things in real life today.

@ 3.26

a text saying "moses believes that all animals go to sugarcandy mountain when they die"

@ 4pm

biodegradable 'plastic bottles' headlining a newspaper

@ 5.23

hail stones in May

& flicking chanels at some point Al Pacino as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice...loved studying it at school...All that glisters is not gold...so true

Belu is the company who's biodegradable bottles were also discussed on radio on Five Live Drive. They are made of a corn polymer that will biodegrade on a compost heap and ‘profits go to WaterAid’. Waitrose stock it now and will be in other stores in the future. The corn can also be used as film over food products. The only 'dirt' on the idea is that really, environmentally tap water is better but at least if you are going to drink bottled then you can drink biodegradable bottled water who's profits go to Wateraid!

Their tag line is:


The text told me that T had finally started Animal Farm and we would have some interesting discussions to come on the subject. He was texting me the answer to the question I set him to test him to see if he had really started or not...see last post on subject.

Hail stones in May prompted a quick phone call to my daughter who told me she had been caught out in it and soaked to the skin in seconds and was now sheltering in a doorway from it watching just as I was and it seems a lot of people on my street...we shared a quick joke about global warming...as you do and then went about our merry ways. No doubt others will joke about the hose bans in a similar vein. There you go, hail stones in May...the British summer.

Exiting the cinema Tom asked me what my superpower would be if I could choose it...I'm not into the offence so it would be defensive...of course if I'd been more caring and thought of people other than my self I would have said my superpower would be to be able to heal or to create water in a drought or to be able to dream up a sustainable renewable free energy source....(which are all already possible if the money is diverted from offence to defence and not defence according to the military definition). I selfishly without hesitation said that my superpower would be INVINCIBLITY. Of course now I could contextualise that answer and say that if I was invincible I could do much more good in the world because I wouldn't have fear as an obstacle...yeah right...well I would hope that that is what would happen but as I have never lived without fear I don't know. Actually I wouldn't even have to be invincible... just fearless.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Paradise Gardens

Paradise Gardens is advertised as

"A wonderful weekend of events, music and street theatre in Victoria Park on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 May. Don't miss giant lily lanterns on the lake, a ghost pagoda, the designer Village Fair, music and dance performances and amazing fire concerts."

I saw drummers, dragons, dancers, giant lilies, craft and food stalls, a steam funfair, musicians, fairies, aliens, acrobats, children in wellies in mud and splashing in puddles, ice-cream covered children and children who thought bubbles gave them magic powers...oh and a coot on a nest.

And even though all this is here, with BBC Radio reporting on it and even Vanessa Feltz... the coot sits on the nest in the calm water... oblivious to all the fun and fanfare! Oh to be a coot on a nest on calm water....

Big Brother & Wal Mart the Movie

This week was Vegetarian Week at club...we had vegetarian burgers and hotdogs, we celebrated the birthday of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) with murder puzzles and visual puzzles and illusions and more puzzles (+ a worker who is colour blind took young people through the Ishihara Test for colour blindness) and for Adult Learners week all the adult workers learned something at club from a young person...from how to play 'round the table' to how to bid on Ebay! And I also learned that one young person, JS has decided that he wants to be a youthworker...oh and with couple of the young people on Tuesday started a surreal club blog at http://theparadisezone.blogspot.com.

Big Brother started this week (ironically one young person studied 1984 for her English Lit GCSE at club). Despite my aversion to the programme, I have to admit that as a youthworker it is a useful tool for building relationships. One year I didn't watch it and I lost many opportunities to get involved in discussions. So I took the bull by the horns and viewing it as 'research' was pleased with my study of the programme as throughout the week it featured in many conversations. Issues discussed included: bullying, tourettes syndrome, postitive and negative qualities in a person, mental health, loneliness, smoking, racism, appropriate behaviour, sexual health and relationships. Watching Big Brother with a view to issue based work with young people makes it more paletable...more like a social study or phychological investigation into human behaviour to be discussed. Certainly the conversations I have had with young people based on the programme are a lot more interesting than those of those from the Big Brother house.

More interesting than Big Brother in content was Wal Mart (Asda in the UK) the documentary...but less interesting in its presentation. The documentary was probably truer to the message than other Moore-type documentaries but would a little humour kill the makers? I lost count of how many times I yawned and shifted my bum in the seat. The information was great it was just that I really did want to 'shoot the messenger'! I could have read the information they gave. There was no sense of the personality of the film maker...it was just a bland presentation of facts...sometime too many facts and bizarely freezing and silent making me think on more than one occasion the projector had stalled. At least Michael Moore tries to entertain us as well as inform us...which makes sense if you want a message to be heard by as many people as possible...and if you want it remembered.

We saw it at The Curzon in Soho, where we'd seen another bum burner The Corporation. Lovely old fashioned cinema but we don't have much luck with it entertainment wise...I don't want to have to put effort into my viewing...I had already done that by going all the way there (as it wasn't showing at my local cinema) paying a ridiculous West End amount of money (I have an annual pass for my local cinema) and getting soaked through in the downpour on the way. Why couldn't the messenger be as good as the message?

Oh and here's the message...read these facts and you will get it!

And this is the Blurb...

WAL-MART: THE HIGH COST OF LOW PRICE is a feature length documentary that uncovers a retail giant's assault on families and American values. The film dives into the deeply personal stories and everyday lives of families and communities struggling to fight a goliath. A working mother is forced to turn to public assistance to provide healthcare for her two small children. A Missouri family loses its business after Wal-Mart is given over $2 million to open its doors down the road. A mayor struggles to equip his first responders after Wal-Mart pulls out and relocates just outside the city limits. A community in California unites, takes on the giant, and wins!

B did a lovely reflection this week using the book Change the World for a Fiver: We Are What We Do. I read the book last year and gave it to a number of people for Christmas as well as getting a copy for club. Its great. As is the site: We Are What We Do We can do everything in the book including buying it for others.

Check out the...

list of simple, everyday actions you can do to help change the world (and have fun while you're doing it). It could be doing something for the community like shopping locally, something for the environment like avoiding plastic bags, or something for you, like learning to paint, sing or speak Spanish...

...and check them off the action list here.

Monday, May 22, 2006

News and Furniture from a Tree

I've decided that the Saturday Guardian is enough tree for me every week. There's enough of it so that I can read it over the weekend and then drop it in the recycling box Sunday night.

I am concerned sometimes though with what I read in it ie. "Ikea is a charity."

When statements like this are made out of context it worries me that this is only the tip of the iceberg and that if I dig deeper I won't like what I find. I don't really want to have to research every statement of 'fact' from the paper to check its veracity. Unless its from the fiction section I want to be able to trust what I read.

Ikea is a charity.

I thought to myself, wow great, its ethically better than I thought. However I wasn't convinced. I checked on the internet. According to the Economist Ikea is...
"...an outfit that ingeniously exploits the quirks of different
jurisdictions to create a charity, dedicated to a somewhat banal cause, that is
not only the world's richest foundation, but is at the moment also one of its
least generous. The overall set-up of IKEA minimises tax and disclosure,
handsomely rewards the founding Kamprad family and makes IKEA immune to a
takeover. And if that seems too good to be true, it is: these arrangements are
extremely hard to undo."

Saying that I can't find a bad word about them otherwise. So is it a good company just taking advantage of loopholes to make money to do good?

I wish the Guardian had expanded on its statement. I also wish I was one of those people who would write into the Guardian asking them to expand on their statement.

2004 Guardian Article on Ikea Part I & Part II

Check out other companies ethics here or get some free trial reports on ethic score of products such soft drinks and the companies that sell them.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Today I spent the day at Epping Forest with a group of young people training for their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. Once we found which paths were on the map and which weren't it went well and apart from bumping into a couple of the young people's IT teacher, to their horror, and being asked if I was the parent of one of them, to my horror.
After the day in the forest I went to see Brick (a refreshing modern Film Noir with great directing and acting by a cast of young people without all the waste of resources of a high budget film, proving that nothing beats a good story, good acting and good directing) at the cinema.
And when I got home I read the free guide to the best walks in Britain that came with todays paper, to find some ideas for the assessment expedition with the Eurovision Song Contest in the background.
We had planned to go to Ashdown Forest for the end expedition & I found, in the free guide, a perfect walk for one of the days to Pooh Corner. Now just have to check whats left to do before the final expedition at the end of June (after they are finished their exams). Found some good info on Expeditions and a Training Checklist which will be useful.

Walking on Custard

The text went like this...

R: Have u started Animal Farm?

T: Yes of course I have!

K: No he hasnt

R: If you have then what is Moses where does he think we go when we die?

T: We go to Oz dont we?

R: I dont no about u but I'm going to heaven n so is K cos she tells the truth

K: Im not cos I dont believe in heaven

R: Jus cos u don't believe in place doesn't mean u cant go there

The TV went like this:
Q. Could Jesus walk on custard? (question on QI)

A. Custard is a non-newtonian dilated fluid. This means in real life terms,
that if a swimming pool was full of the stuff, you could walk on it to cross to
the other side. Not only could Jesus but anyone could.

Jesus also came up in Lost this week...

Lost 'Quote of the Week':

Jesus wants to know what colour car you want.
Other Lostisms this week:

Who needs money when you got good looks?
I'm tired of sitting at the kids table.
Have a Cluckety Cluck day
Grab the rope
You think we got enough gnomes
Everything happens for a reason
Everything's gonna have to change

Last Lostisms

Friday, May 19, 2006

Blocks, Banksy & Books

Today got the Oli Blocks out again (bought them last week) They have been great for stirring the imagination. They connect either by ball and socket or magnet and people have made sculptures like the one to the left, bridges, creatures and communities.

Banksy came up again this week, he got a mention in the Tuesday's Independent (the one Bono edited & 1/2 proceeds of which go to AIDs in Africa) . Showed some of the young people the Banksy Site.

One person who had seen Banksy's work at club went on to do an art project at school based on it. The few who saw it this time were also impressed and want to improve the graffitti in the area with some Banksy style art work. And I found out that there's a chalk spray we could use if we wanted to do it...so now all we need are ideas...

We were talking about our favourite books last night. Usually I can't think what mine are but Catch 22, Wuthering Heights and most of Roddy Doyles came to mind...I must read Catch 22 again...can't remember why I liked it. Books the young peole had liked from school were Of Mice & Men and the play An Inspector Calls, both also favourites of mine. One of the young people, T. reminded me of when we were taking a car journey and he mentioned Eva Smith was astonished to hear me say Daisy Renton, after which we had a long converstion about his coursework essay on An Inspector Calls. T, keen to do more reading, but finding it hard to get through a Martin Luther King biograpy and looking for some shorter books (which I am a great fan of) borrowed my Animal Farm and The Last Children.

I plan to get some of the Quick Reads which were lauched this year on World Book Day, with another batch that came out yesterday. They are a great idea, exactly what they say on the packet, quick reads from established authors and only 1.99 with the book token that can be printed from the website.

Man with Black & White Dog

So just before youth club we hear a smashing sound. Not once as in a car crash but again and again and again. I hurry downstairs with my phone at the ready and see ‘man with black and white dog’, carrying a broom handle, crossing my path with blood dripping from his hand. I also see the flat of the guy who had threatened his dog, with its now broken windows. I wonder what had happened.

The first aid kit came out and as I tended to him he told me it wasn’t him, he didn’t want an ambulance that he only wanted to wash it in a sink despite the fact it really needed stitches. He was appreciative of the care he got but turned when he didn’t get his own way.

He only sat while I bandaged his hand and wouldn’t put it on his shoulder to keep it raised or put pressure on it. I hoped the bandaging was tight enough to stop the bleeding. It wasn’t a text book first aid treatment. The text books assume the ‘patient’ will just do what they are told or will be unconscious so won’t have a choice.

I was glad to see the back of my patient and my compassion for him. I had been trying to see the positive in him since I had seen him at our centre because his behaviour towards me in the surrounding neighbourhood had been so negative before that. Being a ‘professional’ I put my feelings aside and put it all down to alcoholism and ill-mental-health. Of course he could just not be a very nice person. I’m beginning to suspect as much.

I’m a youth worker, I work better with young people…I might have been able to work better with him when he was a young person.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Googling Dad

This is the badge of the Irish Police, who are called the Garda Siochana/Guardians of the Peace. My Dad's been one most of my life.

I just spotted, Googling my Dad, that his work was not only discussed in Irish Parliamentary Debates (when he was sergeant) but talks about the same issues that I have just finished my last assignment on this year particularly that of the link between crime and social factors.

Dail Eireann - Volume 433 - 02 July, 1993
Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill, 1993: Second Stage (Resumed).

The relationship between crime and social and economic conditions was the subject of an interesting study recently by Sergeant Eamon Lynch of the Crime Task Force in Cork which was reported by Mr. Padraig Yeates in The Irish Times of 28 June last. Sergeant Lynch makes a number of very interesting points, the principal one that the rise and drop in crime is directly correlated to the levels of consumption and economic growth. He makes the point, for example, that between 1985 and 1989 crime was fairly static while consumption rose by an average of 3.9 per cent. In 1990, however, consumption rose by only 0.4 per cent and the crime rate jumped by 7 per cent. He makes a similar point in relation to the 1980s. He states that in 1982 spending [983] power dropped by 7.1 per cent, the largest drop in recent Irish economic history, and that the number of crimes shot up by 8,000. He went on to state that five of the six highest crime increases have been associated with minus or zero growth rates. He related that to the whole area of economic conditions and stated that while there was no direct correlation between unemployment and overall crime figures there is a strong correlation between income distribution and crime. He said:I would argue that the extent of crime is crucially dependent on the extent of relative poverty in the community, the size of the gap between the have-a-lots and the have-a-lot-lesses and the interplay of expectations, frustrations, perceptions and misconceptions that offenders have of that gap, and particularly whether they consider that it is narrowing, widening or remaining constant.

Mine is focussing on young people...seeing as I am a youthworker...but is I chose a similar topic to study.

Youth & Community Studies/Youth Justice Assignment Question:Are Social Factors the Most Important Causes of Offending Behaviour Among Young People?
Early views on crime such as Darwin’s and other proponents of 'the biological image of behaviour', A. Platt quotes SB. Cooper as saying , promoted the view that 'a large proportion of the unfortunate children that go to make up the great army of criminals are not born right.' The view 'that 'criminals' were a distinct and dangerous class, indigenous to working-class' abounded. The 'cruder concepts of social Darwinism' were to be replaced in the 1890's with such efforts as sociologists like Charles Cooley, who observed that 'criminal behaviour depended as much upon social and economic circumstances as it did upon the inheritance of biological traits.' He considered that the 'criminal class' was 'largely the result of society's bad workmanship upon fairly good material.'(C. Cooley, 1896, quoted by A, Platt, 1974/2002:186)

Moving forward to 1968 and the White Paper, Children in Trouble we get the following view:

"It is probably a minority of children who grow up without ever misbehaving. Frequently such misbehaviour is no more than an incident in the pattern of a child's normal development. But sometimes it is a response to unsatisfactory family or social circumstances, an indication of maladjustment or immaturity or a symptom of a deviant, damaged or abnormal personality." (quoted in J.Clarke, 1975, 2002:134)
Gelsthorpe and Morris (2002:249) question whether we in recent times are seeing a return to the policies introduced in the 1969, Children and Young Person's Act, recasting the offender as a 'victim of social deprivation'. They consider governmental concerns to 'get tough on the causes of crime' which has the Social Exclusion Unit and the Community Development Foundation facilitating 'greater access for young people to the employment market' as well as encouraging 'social improvement in socially deprived areas'.

Bilton et al, (1987:449) see crime, from a positivist perspective, firmly placed by academics in the category of 'social problem' which can be explained in three ways; through biogenic and psychogenic approaches which try to identify the kinds of people that commit crime and how they become those kinds and through sociogenic approaches which 'see criminal behaviour as socially acquired'. While the former, non sociological explanations have been popular 'in the eyes of the media, politicians, moralists and...many...involved...with criminals' it has been acknowledged by sociologists to be 'unsatisfactory' and the necessity of the latter, 'a sociological explanation of crime' has been identified (Bilton et al, 1987:451). As criminal behaviour, according to Bilton et al, is not 'randomly distributed by genes or personality but follows a consistent social pattern'...there is a 'basic acceptance of social influences and social processes as important in criminal behaviour'.

Durkheim argues that 'social phenomena' cannot be 'reduced to individual state, either biological or psychological, but depends instead on social factors', made up of 'social facts' which he maintains are 'external, coercive and objective' (Abercrombie et al, 2000:322). A distinction can be made, according to Abercrombie et al (2000:326), however, between 'social problems' and 'social facts', where problems are the result of 'social change'. This social change can create conflict between two groups in which 'one group succeeds in wining public acceptance of its claim that the other's behaviour should be labelled as problematic' causing the 'moral panics' that frequent our media. This illustrates how, then the 'media of communication help define social problems and create public anxiety' (Ibid). This, similarly, can be seen in such high profile cases as the Bulger case.

Sheila Brown (1998:50) quotes the judge in the Bulger case citing 'violent video films' as a cause 'in part' of their behaviour and, as Smith (1994:227) puts it 'no mention of any other issues that might be a factor in young people committing serious crime' despite there being 'no mention in evidence of any videos'. However, The Sun was convinced; Brown (1998:51) tells us, that on the 26th of November 1993 they printed 'the image of Chucky consumed in flames, declaring: 'For the sake of all our kids...BURN YOUR VIDEO NASTY.' This sort of media, surrounding the case, a cause of the 'periodic "moral panics" about youth crime (Muncie et al, 2002:19), coupled with the Newson report increased the public's perception of, 'the child villain', as Brown puts it, 'innocence polluted by video nasties'. Thus when arbitrary factors as this are taken into consideration despite there being no evidence to back up the claim the real factors can be masked. According to Abercrobie et al (2002:326), this kind of media masking leads to 'many official definitions of social problems' being believed to be derived from 'the personal characteristics of individuals rather than from structural features of the social system over which individuals have little influence' (Abercrombie et al, 2000:322)

Griffin, C (2004:14) sees 'traditional' or 'mainstream approaches' tending to adopt various forms of the 'victim-blaming thesis', in which young people are represented as the cause of specific 'social problems' and that such problems could be 'alleviated if those young people who are most affected would only change their attitudes, appearance or behaviour'. Whereas what she calls the 'radical perspective' she considers is more likely 'to focus on the wider social systems in which young people live, economic, political and cultural, looking at relations of domination and subordination around gender, 'race', class, sexuality and (less frequently) disability as well as age.'

The 'traditional position' Goldson (2002:388) purports, of the Government tending to 'connect criminal justice with social justice', has been 'digressed from' by playing down the links between 'economic factors and rising crime'. According to Muncie and Hughes (2002:10), at the 'heart' of Labour's new youth justice are factors such as 'family breakdown, poor parental control, failing child rearing practices and a dependency culture'. However '[m]uch of this flies in the face of repeated research findings that young people in trouble with the law have complex and systematic patterns of disadvantage which lie beyond any incitement to find work, behave properly or take up the "new opportunities" on offer' (Muncie and Hughes, 2002:10).

A summary of Farrington's (1996) report cites the major risk factors for youth crime as the following:

- low income and poor housing
- living in deteriorated inner city areas
- a high degree of impulsiveness and hyperactivity
- low intelligence and low school attainment
- poor parental supervision and harsh and erratic discipline
- parental conflict and broken families
At the top of his 'major risk factors for juvenile offending' is the following:

Prenatal and perinatal: early child-bearing increases the risks of such undesirable outcomes for children as low school attainment, antisocial behaviour, substance use and early sexual activity. An increased risk of offending among children of teenage mothers is associated with low income, poor housing, absent fathers and poor child-rearing methods

However, Griffin (2004:15) cites a recent study of young women in Britain who became pregnant in their teenage years where Ann Phonix (1991) argues 'that when economic indices are held constant, many of the educational, psychological, and social problems experienced by the children of 'young mothers' evaporate.' Griffin contends, 'that is, it is not the youth or the single status of these children's mothers that should be a cause for concern, but the poverty into which they are born, and which their mothers struggle to overcome as best they can.'

With the highest percentage of children in poverty in Europe and known factors such as 'family difficulties and prior contact with the care system', Muncie and Hughes contend that 'any inclusionary programme which does not simultaneously advocate a redistribution of power wealth and opportunity is likely to be seriously flawed' (2002:10). McGhee et al (1996, 2002:236) speak of the 'current desire' to 'remove young offenders from child care decision making to a justice model' as risking 'stepping back into failed past experiments rather than addressing the social and family conditions which may contribute towards offending behaviour.'

In that vein, J. Muncie (2004) considers it significant that the Welsh Assembly chose to locate youth justice services within Health and Social Services rather than Crime Prevention. As early as the 1960's, according to the Home Office, it was recognised that 'the requirement to have regard to the welfare of the child, and the various ways in which the court may deal with an offender, suggests a jurisdiction which is not criminal.' This, it was stated, was because 'criminal responsibility is focussed on an allegation about some particular act isolated from the character and needs of the defendant, whereas welfare depends on a complex of personal, family and social considerations.' (cited by Brown, 1998:57)

An outcome of this lack of focus on welfare leads to what Brown (1998:96) considers Anderson et al's (1994:158) 'vicious circle of young people and crime' where as she contends, indifference to their 'victimisation' means they 'develop their own strategies for coping with crime' such as 'carrying weapons for protection' reinforcing the 'youth as problem' cycle to be reinforced. Exploring, Morgan and Zedner's (1992:6) 'victimisation of children seen solely in terms of child abuse' meaning concern about this developing 'largely outside a criminological framework', Brown (1998:96) considers that '[c]hildren and young people have to earn their status as victims whereas they are eagerly ascribed their status as offenders.'

Seabrook (2002:112) tackles the idea of 'criminal classes' in 'affluent societies' where he recognises how the 'poor' in these societies, in the 'injustice which imprisons them in prison like suburbs, public housing schemes, bidonvilles, favelas, barrios, and peripheral dumping grounds which characterise the cities of the world revolt against the 'social injustice within societies whose wealth has been prodigious and in which certain individuals have been conspicuously rewarded.' He sees those for whom 'social hope' had been 'cancelled', who recognise that the 'boy next door who becomes a football star' or the 'girl who won the talent competition on TV' are 'very little different from themselves' and with 'no possibility of social improvement, they take the law into their own hands.' Similar to what Bilton et al (1987:483) might term a kind of 'sociology of the underdog', Seabrook sees, crime, therefore as related to poverty in the sense of the 'structures of inequality within societies distinguished by their...wealth' (Seabrook, 2002:113-114). Similarly, Haralambos (1983:254) cites Cohen's theory on social class differences in crime, identifying motives to be material gain, prestige (from peers/success in crime), 'status frustration' and as 'the chance to hit back at wider society which has denied many ...the opportunity to become successful.' 'Delinquency is [a]... response[...] which people... make to prolonged hardship and frustration.' (Donnison, 1977)

In summary and according to Mathiesen, T (1990,2002:382) '[c]urrent offenders ending up in prisons...tend to show signs of extreme poverty in three generalised respects':

Their material situation is regularly acute, and coupled with illness, drug addiction and distress.
Their symbolic standing, in their own eyes and in the eyes of others is the lowest possible.
And their social situation is characterized by isolation and cultural poverty.

Mathiesen (1990,2002:383) goes on to propose ways in which these three areas can be tackled. He considers that the 'material standing of these people may be fundamentally changed through relatively simple and fairly modest material inputs' and their 'symbolic standing and social situation [though] requires more imagination...rituals...which confer new standing and status...' For 'sociological correlates to intensive criminal behaviour' he would advocate, 'compensatory mechanisms' to cancel out correlates, with amongst other things new housing, educational and youth policies as well as 'intensified policing' to 'control before crime occurs' (Ibid).

From an alternative perspective Radical criminology would consider the power structures which allow 'economic and socio-political forces' to operate in the construction and application of 'deviant' or 'criminal' labels (Bilton et al 1987:484). Marxists accuse us of accepting 'official definitions of crime and deviance' thus meaning an 'acceptance of an existing social order by restricting analysis to a predefined range of subject matter…inhibit[ing] the questioning of the propriety of other areas of behaviour.' This is seen as how 'capitalism 'creates' crime in its legal definitions' while ignoring the 'inequalities of capitalism' which produce a 'propertied and powerful class and the propertyless and powerless classes' and in turn what Liazos (1972:109) is quoted as calling 'covert institutionalised violence' such as 'exploitation, poverty and imperialism' (Bilton et al, 1987:484)

Gelsthorpe and Morris (2002:240) point out the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is ten. Those under ten 'cannot be found guilty of a criminal offence' and those between ten and thirteen are 'presumed in law to be doli inpax (incapable of criminal intent)'. This recognises, as Gelsthorpe and Morris (2002:241) tell us, that under fourteen 'should not be considered as fully criminally responsible as adults' but it still remains that ten year olds behaving the same way in other parts of western Europe will not be classed as criminals, as they are in England and Wales with the age of criminal responsibility set as low as ten. It is down to what we consider should be the definition of a criminal and crime.

Scraton and Haydon (2002:324) consider that the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act 'criminalises children, young people and their parents' and they call for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to sixteen 'in line with other social responsibilities within UK legislation.' This would mean the definition of 'acts currently labelled as 'crimes' or 'offences' as outside the criminal justice process if committed by children or young people under sixteen, redefining such acts as 'inappropriate or causing harm'. This would involve acknowledging that such behaviour 'may be ways of coping with or reacting to, their experience of social injustice...' This, increasing of the age of criminal responsibility to 16, was in fact proposed in the 1965 White Paper, The Child, the Family and the Young Offender (Home Office 1965, cited by Brown, 1998:59). Minor offences were seen as 'part of the normal process of growing up' and the more serious were done by 'the victims of a deprived and unhappy home'. This recognised social factors importance to the cause of crime and proposed that 'non-judicial Family Councils [would] be in place of the Juvenile Courts for young people under 16' causing, in essence 'juvenile offending [to be] effectively decriminalised.' Gelsthorpe and Morris (2002:242) point out, in fact that although 'minor offences' can be associated with adolescence, the lesser number of persistent offender's crimes are 'unrelated to age' but are 'characterised by an early onset of offending and chaotic lives in which poverty, violence, neglect, abuse and school failure.'

Considering offending among young people, findings support the importance of social factors as a cause of that behaviour, in particular as Ackerman's (1998) research indicates 'crime is significantly related to poverty and its associated conditions and processes.' Pitts, J. & Hope (1997) focus 'not only on whether the State could or should intervene economically to ameliorate the causes of the "new poverty" but also on how the State should address the increasing rates of "social dislocation"-including youth crime...associated with its emergence.' Donnison (1997) contends that 'if our aim is to reduce crime, its economic and social context must first be understood; then changed'.

Equally, as Per-Olof Wikstrom, from SCOPIC (Social contexts of pathways into crime) maintains:

'Too often different approaches - the study of social factors and individual characteristics, for instance - have been dealt with separately in research, and this problem has been reflected in crime prevention initiatives with similar limitations. We need a more integrated approach, understanding how different factors interact and how these interactions vary in different times and places.'
Ackerman, W. V. (1998) Socioeconomic Correlates of Increasing Crime Rates in Smaller Communities. The Professional Geographer 50 (3), 372-387. doi: 10.1111/0033-0124.00127
Abercrombie et al, (2000) The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, Fourth Edition, Penguin Books Ltd, London
Bilton, T. et al, (1987) Introductory Sociology (34-147), London, The Macmillan Press Ltd
Clarke, J. (1975, 2002) The 3 Rs – repression, rescue and rehabilitation: ideologies of control for working class youth, Youth Justice Critical Readings, The Open University, Sage Publications
Corby, B (2004) The Mistreatment of the young, Youth in Society, Open University, London
Donnison, D (1997) Creating a Safer Society. Social Policy & Administration 31 (5), 3-21. doi: 10.1111/1467-9515.00072
Farrington, D. (1996) Understanding and Preventing Youth Crime, Social Policy Research 93 (April 1996), Joseph Rowntree Foundation, York Publishing Sevices
Gelsthorpe, L. & Morris, A. (2002) Restorative youth justice, The last vestiges of welfare? Youth Justice Critical Readings, The Open University, Sage Publications
Goldson, B. (2002) New Punitiveness, The Politics of Child Incarceration, Youth Justice Critical Readings, The Open University, Sage Publications
Griffin, C (2004) Representations of Youth, Youth in Society, Open University, London
Haralambos, M. et Al (1983), Sociology a new approach, Causeway press Ltd.
Seabrook, J (2002) Class, Caste & Hierarchies, New Internationalist Publications Ltd, Oxford
Thomson et al (2004), Introduction to the Second Edition, Youth in Society, Open University, London
Mathieson, T. (2002) The Future of Imprisonment, Youth Justice Critical Readings, The Open University, Sage Publications
McGhee et al (1996, 2002) Children’s Hearings & Children inTtrouble, Youth Justice Critical Readings, The Open University, Sage Publications
Muncie, J. & Hughes, G. (2002) Modes of Youth Governance, Youth Justice Critical Readings, The Open University, Sage Publications
Pitts, J. & Hope, T. (1997) The Local Politics of Inclusion: The State and Community Safety. Social Policy & Administration 31 (5), 37-58. doi: 10.1111/ 1467-9515.00074
Platt, A. (1974, 2002) The Triumph of Benevolence, Youth Justice Critical Readings, The Open University, Sage Publications
Wikström, P. (SCOPIC) Social Contexts of Pathways into Crime) Fundef by the Economic and Social research Council http://www.scopic.ac.uk/

Blog 2004

Looked at some experiments in blogging I did in 2004...didn't realise it was that far back...One blog called Blogzor has only 2 posts...the following:

Monday, July 12, 2004

A navigational term for setting a bearing a few degrees to the side of a feature like a bridge, to be able to know if you turn a certain direction and follow the river you will come across the bridge rather than aiming for the bridge and missing it, not knowing which side you are of it. Used also in conversation when you don't want to say what is really on your mind or if you think that getting straight to the point might mean the other person's defences coming up and missing the point. You want to say what it is the person is doing that you don't agree with but you are hoping that if you start at a place on the side of the argument you are sure of, that you will be able to follow the thread of it to the point at which you want to be. Which is fine if the river doesn't burst its banks, or you are forced to take an alternative route or the bridge collapses or there are two bridges and only one is shown on the map. Sometimes its better taking the direct route - at least then you both know where you stand.
¶ 11:30 PM

Sunday, July 11, 2004

With your last dying breath you're not going to say a word like 'cucumber', it's too cumbersome...no really. Whereas 'beauty' would do it. Say it 'beauty'. You can hear your breath being taken away, like beauty should do. Now 'beautiful', strangely enough doesn't work because the 'ful' just swallows up the breath, just drawing it back in, which would mean it was your second last breath rather than your last. Of course if you have experimented at all in the last few seconds or just read this aloud you'll have found the perfect 'last breath word' is 'breath'.
¶ 12:49 AM
Saturday, July 31, 2004

The other blog called Running Away has only 1 post:



Hide in your duvet
Eat chocolate or fruit if you want to be healthy
Take some deep belly-breaths - ie not from chest but belly
Count all the reasons for not running away
If you can't think of any - talk to someone who can
If you can't stay - make it a planned exit - maybe walk in an orderly fashion away
If you have to stay maybe get away in your head - try writing, try blogging
And periodically go back to the start again - you never know what might change

posted by zor at 2:49 AM

I think that I thought back then that blogging seemed like a good idea...I'm not sure anymore. I don't know what I want from it still. If there is any point. I don't know why I have gone back to writing it. Perhaps because I feel guilty that I am not writing creatively or its just a bit of self indulgence and all it does is waste time.

I began with grand ideas starting this blog WaysToMakeTheWorldABetterPlace Imagining I would follow my endeavours (in documentary style reportage)in trying to make the world a better place. And I don't know why.

Its moved on from there and I suppose it will evolve into whatever I need from it or I will stop writing.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Letterbox Love

Sunday morning, walking along an East End London street I heard someone cry out. They were locked out, shouting in a letterbox, wanting their key back. On the way back home, down the same street, by now they were hunched over, hugging the letterbox crying into it.

It reminded me of the first two verses of William Blake's 'London'

I wandered through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:

How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.

But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse.

Though bound by the law and whatever belief system we live by, in the end they are all creations our own. We have the free will to bind, prohibit, ban, stop, restrict ourselves...our limitations are ourselves...our 'mind forged manacles' are what restrict us for good and bad.

Chimney sweepers were the child slavery of Blake's time, the same kind of slavery we abhor in other countries who are just reaching their Industrial Revolutions. The UK just had theirs first. We still manage though to have the soldier, palace, harlot (prostitute) and sexually transmitted diseases.

I'd like to cry out against all that means we have to make soldiers or prostitutes of people, whether it is nationalism, the bourgouise, the power base whether it is royalty, government or laws of the land or of organised religions which misrepresent their beliefs to the point that people die because they go to war or die because they won't wear a condom...

Don't we have enough martyrs? Question everything. Take off your 'mind forged manacles'. Cry out. As Dylan Thomas said, 'Rage'....'Do not go gently into that good night.'

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Doughnut or Donut

It was doughnut week, we made doughnuts, salt dough doughnuts, made Doughnut Week Certificates (ie if u were a donut you would have x sprinkled on top), a doughnut philispohical puzzle...ie. Why there are holes in Doughnuts. And crowned it off with a doughnut evaluation sheet ... oh and we ate doughnuts.

Not perhaps a very worthy week's theme. Not to worry, next week is Sandwich Week!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

TV Texting

A new phenomena, which began the first week of the second season of Lost and began with the words 'Open the Hatch in your Mind'....TV Texting.

Watching a programme on TV and playing 'spot the line for life' (aka 'badge quotes')and text it to other TV Texters before they do to you...even better keep a dialogue going based on quotes as you watch. Kinda makes TV watching more of an interactive and community experience.

Week 1 - Quotes for Life from Lost...otherwise known as 'Lostisms'

Make your own kind of Music
Why do you find it so hard for you to Believe? Why do you find it so easy?

Week 2 - Quotes for all Occasions

Just saving the world
Its all a mind game
You don't even know what you're running from
Its a leap of faith
All roads lead here
Get over it freaks
Its not real
You don't have to be alone
See you in another life
I can't do this alone
What am I supposed to do?
This is not what's supposed to happen

Quotes only making sense in the context of Lost

Its a girl!
Its a button!
Flight 815
I push this button every 108 minutes, I don't get out much
I'm Dr Marvin Kendal

and of course the numbers...4, 8, 15, 16, 23 & 42 which add up to 108

First Funerals

Funerals are strange, especially your first. Over the past few weeks some of the young people of the club have been to their first funeral and they said it was strange.

We go to these places that we have never been before to say goodbye to our loved ones in ways we have never experienced before. Because of convention, traditon or our beliefs...we follow rituals to help with our grief, start the healing and to celebrate their lives.

Elvis Presley was the first person to die that made me cry. I had had pets die but we buried them in the garden or they went to the vet and never came back. I remember my mum, eyes wet with tears, waking me at night to tell me. I never got to go to his funeral but we watched it on TV.

The first funerals I went to; one I spent crying hysterically and the other I spent laughing hysterically. They were both grandfathers and died hardly a year apart.

My first experience, though of 'real live' death was my Granda Tom's who we stayed with in Kerry while alive and dead. Alive he slept upstairs in pyjamas in a bedroom that smelt of cigarettes and Vicks Vaporub. Dead he slept downstairs in a suit in a living room that smelt of candles and Christmas. That seemed odd to me.

I wrote a poem about his death for the school magazine.

Peacefully Within

We went in through the open door into the dark and quiet
And all we saw in that little room was his face in candle light.
He looked a man who did it well with neither pain nor moan,
But who's to say there wasn't grief for his wife is now alone.

I couldn't bear, seeing him there, remembering him so full of life,
So I continued on down the hall with pain that pierced like a knife,
Ne'er will I forget his wrinkled face and look of peacefulness
And that my heart it did touch and my soul it did caress.

Each time I passed the open door n'er would I look in
For life was going on all around and death lay peacefully within

The day of the funeral the town walked with us to the cemetry. My aunt put her weadding bouquet on the grave. I returned next to the grave about 20 years later when my Nan was buried there. They were together.

They were Rosaleen and Tom, just as I and my partner are. When they married Tom gave Rosaleen a silver coin dated 1888, which was given to me to mark the birth of my daughter in 1988 on Rosaleen's birthday. Lives don't just entwine because of names and dates but because of the value we give those labels. Just as the value we place on rituals such as the funeral.

I would like freisias and fireworks at mine. Scent, sound and light in the darkness of the night. Put me, shrouded, on a little wooden boat and set me alight and push me out to sea. That's what I would have done for my Grandfather. Thats how I would have said 'Goodbye'.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Wear Sunscreen

Last night, cramming with the TV on, showing the top 'one hit wonders' saw that great video Wear Sunscreen again. Today I used it for our pre-club reflection and asked the workers each to, during the course of the session think of a piece of advice that they would give themselves if they were able to go back in time to the age of the young people - 10-13.

This is the original, anyone could do their own version...
Wear Sunscreen Original

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Subtitles & Signs

This week was Deaf Awareness Week. According to the RNID the estimated number of people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in the UK is 9 million.

I realised this week that although doing activities at club like signing raise awareness for young people, subtitling, texting and the internet are major gateways for many Deaf young people access-wise. In a chat room everone that can type has an equal chance.

I've been on the sofa downstairs this past week because my sleeping pattern has been all over the place while I write assignments and cram for exams. I've been watching late night television with the sound down and subtitling on so I don't disturb anyone and so that I can drift off to sleep without the usual sudden blare of sound that comes with ad breaks. I've seen the names of the subtitlers at the end of programmes. It made me wonder if they need volunteers. I've thought before about volunteering to make recordings for the Blind. I'll look into it next week - after the last exam and I've handed my assignment in. And I may even in weeks to come work on the club website.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Goats n' Grid References

Finding symbols on a map, matching mountains to contours, identifying 100m in paces and giving a presentation on the countryside code wouldn't normally be my idea of a fun night in but five young people doing the Duke of Edinburgh's Award made it so...that and a forfeit for the losing team of planning the next session!

The competition was intense. All creative measures were employed to visually present the countryside code in tableux form...including mime, the using of club plants and saying it in German. Someone had to lose but they took it well and began planning then and there.

The night was rounded off by a discussion on training dates, tomorrow's election, their wearing of 'Unf**k the World' badges at school...(the defense was that it wasn't a 'real swear-word and it had a positive slogan) and a question on Ockham's razor.

This then, for me was rounded off with being told about a book called 'The Men who stare at Goats', a book on psychological warfare...ie staring goats to death...

And this was all just in the last couple of hours...