Wednesday, January 22, 2020


I walk to the Minster along the cycle path, and back again along the main road. Both routes now take me past arson sites: a burnt out rubbish bin, and a large pile of fly-tipped rubbish (the fire was dealt with by the fire brigade, but the council have not removed the hazardous waste; nor, of course, was it dealt with before the arsonists targeted it) along the cycle path; and the pedestrian subway under the main road.

Much of such arson is the activity of youths. In addition, here in the north east, there has been an increase in incidents of groups of youths starting fires to bring out the fire brigade, and then pelting them with missiles as they work to put the blaze out. This is completely unacceptable, and not to be tolerated.

It is also a cry for help. A cry for attention. To not be ignored.

And it will not do to say that this is the work of an anti-social tiny minority. That is like saying that a person whose skin is covered in little red chicken pox blisters does not have chicken pox in 99% of their body, but only where there are spots. As a society we have given rise to a generation who feel at best ignored, at worst demonised. And yes, at times their actions may well encourage us to further ignore, or demonise, them. But who are the grown-ups in this?

It will take intentional effort to see young people, to hear their cry, to like them despite their unlikeable behaviour. And if central funding cannot be found — and what there was has been torched — then we might just have to re-imagine a different story.

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