‘Underlying reason has to lie in home’

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THE launch of a specific antisocial behaviour initiative aimed at primary-age children really is a sad indictment on the state of some of our communities today.

A sad indictment, but obviously not a shocking revelation to many long-suffering residents and businesses who are forced to deal with feral youngsters roaming their neighbourhoods.

Just ask the team at Musselburgh Athletic who, as we reveal today, arrived to find their toilets vandalised by a group of kids as young as 11. The culprits, if ever caught, will no doubt say they did it because they were bored. Not as bored as everyone else is of clearing up after them.

But what more can be done? It is easy to constantly bemoan the breakdown of society and hark back to the romantic “Pc Murdoch” age, when young kids would be marched back to their parents for no more serious a crime than a poorly aimed football.

So the launch this week of the new initiative, while a worrying social indicator, is a positive action. Police have identified a particular issue in three East Lothian communities and now have a strategy to address it.

They rightly fear for the future – minor vandalism in primary years could well escalate into more serious crime by the time they hit their teens.

It is presumably all pretty basic stuff – giving children something positive to do, encouraging them to show respect for their elders and other people’s property, and showing them the results of their actions.

You might say that it is the kind of basic stuff which you would expect the parents to be doing – and that is the crux of the issue.

The underlying reason behind why these children are allowed to run around the streets committing crime when their contemporaries are watching cartoons or playing in the park has to lie in the home.

While this initiative is good, any major move to tackle the issue has to focus on the family unit to address parenting or other issues. That, of course, would mean a huge amount of time and money being spent when both are in short supply.

Many, including the staff at Musselburgh Athletic, would feel it is well worth the investment.

Fairway feat

A word of encouragement to golfer Jamie Kennedy who is aiming to raise £10,000 for charity by playing ten rounds of golf in 24 hours at Mortonhall.

For many of us the thought of walking more than 50 miles without sleep is challenge enough. But imagine having to get round a golf course in two hours? In these days of incessant slow play on our fairways, that’s surely the biggest feat of all.