Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dangerous Dogs, Owners and Parents

This week the talk has been how to control dangerous "status" dogs owned by young men (usually) who are often simply young people on benefits. They swagger around with their pit bull-like dogs, letting these dogs foul the pavement and often use these dogs to threaten others.

Would you, in your right mind, confront one of these if you saw that they were not picking up after their dogs?

So our good minister, a certain Mr Johnson, has been talking about making sure that dog owners insure their dogs against their biting innocents. My former band instructor said he came from a school in Singapore called "Holy Innocents". The boys' nickname for their school was "Holy in no sense".

Mr Johnson was, in my reckoning, speaking "wholly in no sense".

Then there was the news of John Veneables, "one of the Bulger killers", being thrown back into prison. A certain children's "Tsar" (advocate) also said that we are criminalizing our children at too early an age, incurring the wrath of Bulger's mum. Understandably.

I also caught snippets of a Channel 4 documentary on three young men vying to get a scholarship to Harrow School, just up the road from us. One of these candidates -- from the little I had seen -- appeared to me (rightly or wrongly) so obnoxious that my instinctive feel was: if Harrow welcomes boys like that, my son is not going there.

With his IQ of 141 his parents had been trying to get him into a school a year ahead of others. Having failed to do so, they went down the independent school route.

Over meals, husband and I came to one conclusion. It is not the child's fault. It is their parents'. Neither are dangerous dogs "dangerous", it is the dog owners who are dangerous.

If dog owners and parents would only discharge more of their responsibilities then life in this country would be so different.

Do you reckon?

We've just spent another Sunday morning at the ski centre where son is getting some lessons in readiness for a school trip. Watching their children ski next to us was a family whose pushy mum drove me nearly mental.

First of all she talked really loudly. Why do people assume that other people wish to, or enjoy, listening to what is essentially a private conversation between members of a family? Is this the mobile phone culture gone badly wrong?

Then she went on and on about 'Matthew' who would just do his own thing. He would not keep in line and would overtake his sister. He would ski down the slope as quickly as he could. And we noticed that Matthew had no respect for others at all.

Instead of queueing up like other children, Matthew simply went as far in front of queue as he dared to, completely ignoring the people who had been there before him.

Why did the people let him? Because Matthew is tiny.

And that was the other issue. My son was enrolled in the class for children aged 7 to 10. Matthew was not quite 7 yet and should be in an earlier class with other 4-to-6-year-olds. How do we know? Because Matthew's Mum announced this to the world (actually his grandparents, but rather loudly), "O well, since there were just a few weeks to go I didn't want them to go to separate lessons. That means having to wait one hour for Matthew and one hour for Abigail."

Meanwhile, according to my son after the lesson, Matthew was causing mayhem. He kept falling over using the Poma button and causing 'pile-ups'. The lift had to stop several times and according to my son it was because of Matthew.

Part of the 'syllabus' required the children to ski in a path set out by the instructor. But Matthew would do his own thing, lose control, fall over and messed everyone else up.

Just because one selfish mother insisted that her child who was clearly too young and ill-disciplined and could not follow instructions, was allowed to join an older class, so that said mother need not be inconvenienced.

Meanwhile other children in the class suffered because of Matthew's lack of control, or desire for control. I noticed that she never said anything about Matthew's habit of jumping queues.

So, broken Britain, what chance do we have if even (presumably) middle-class parents do not teach their children discipline? If the mum is so selfish that she prefers to inconvenience others so that she does not need to wait another hour at the centre, what does it say of her other parenting responsibilities?

Would this type of parents be the same ones who take their children out of school during term time to go on holidays, to take advantage of cheaper deals? Are these the same parents who insist that teachers give their own children time to catch up on work missed as a result of such holidays?

Never mind that time spent on such holidaying children would mean time taken away from children who did not go on holidays.

Ten is too young for children to be deem responsibile for a crime, in most cases. But their parents are not. If we could have laws (like the truancy laws) that allow a parent to be taken to court for the 'crimes' of their children, parents might just become a bit more circumspect.

Rant over, for now.

No comments: