“Sickened and horrified”

New London Mayor Boris Johnson wasted no time in making his view’s known. Writing in the News of the World, he says:

I was as sickened and horrified as everyone else in Britain by the murder of altar boy Jimmy Mizen at a baker’s shop in London last weekend. It was a tragic reminder—as if we needed one—of the problems we face throughout Britain today. Last year in London alone 27 teenagers were murdered. As London mayor I will do everything in my power to stop other parents going through the heartbreak Jimmy’s parents are suffering. All over Britain, drug crime, knife attacks, violence, drunkenness and disorder are creating streets of fear where decent people fear to tread…

Gangs, guns and drugs are proving more attractive to young people than family, school and qualifications [our emphais]. And that’s got to stop. We must fill the vacuum left by the breakdown of the family. We must give these kids boundaries, discipline, vision and self-esteem. And show them they CAN turn their lives around—and lose the sense that the world is against them.

Now, if you take the politics out of this – which is tricky, as it reads like a Tory manifesto – the key point here is surely the attractiveness of gang culture. It’s way too easy to assume that kids get dragged kicking and screaming into a world of gangs, drugs, weapons and jail – but sometimes it really must feel like the best option on offer. In context, when your life is pretty crap and the outlook looks even crappier, there really IS something glamorous about belonging to a gang and sharing that kind of brotherhood and protection. It’s important to acknowledge this appeal in order to understand the culture.

Plus there are tangible benefits. As one of the gangsters in the Soul Control game says to a school-age potential recruit: “What would you rather have – brains or cash?”

So, ok, Boris – point taken, Now let’s see some positive action to ‘fill the vacuum’ and give these kids ‘boundaries, discipline, vision and self-esteem’. It’s a bit more important than bendy buses

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