We were all in shock last week when witnessing the riotous scenes which saw so many high streets and residential areas ransacked, looted and vandalised across England.
As was questioned in these pages last week, we wonder what lessons can be learned from those events on this side of the Irish Sea?
Community and family structures are important in society, fundamental even. The ‘Love Ulster’ debacle in Dublin demonstrated that ‘the unruly mob’ lurks beneath the surface in this jurisdiction.
And, as last weekend’s problems at the Apprentice Boys march in Derry demonstrated, the hooded, petrol bomb throwers haven’t gone away.
A debate about the role of education and parenting itself has begun in England in the wake of last week’s riots.
Teachers have been stripped of many of their disciplining powers, and their un-cooperative students are all too aware of this, as well as how difficult it is for the police and the court system to effectively shackle them.
Given that we in Ireland now possess a system where school children can’t run in playgrounds, where the emphasis on physical education has never been truly prioritised – a fault of government rather than teachers – could that lead to future problems?
Even more critically, how children are disciplined for their bad behaviour in both school and the home, has come under the spotlight. Punishment is a most un-PC word to use in this age; sanctions are palatable to those who see only the system, as opposed to the aggressor, as being part of the problem.
It is extremely difficult to expel a difficult, consistently misbehaving pupil. Suspensions are issued but lessons are not always learned during these ‘cooling-off’ periods. The question of what school then takes on such an errant individual throws up another conundrum for the system and society as a whole.
In England, many commentators have identified the riots as a failure of the liberal society, in which the state has reduced the powers of parents and teachers.
Some parents interviewed by the English media in the past few days believe their children have too many rights and that they themselves were now being threatened by their own children.