I’m writing about the tragic death of a young 20yr-old boy ( he was a tall rugby player) who lived behind us here in a northern suburb of Glasgow. He was violently and indiscriminately attacked in the centre of Glasgow by two youths. A recent study from California cited Scotland as having the highest rates of Youth violence in the world. When it reaches so close to home, it shocks and horrifies us all.
As I pick up the Evening Times I read of further attacks. Apparently the two Youths involved in the random attack, injured several others the same night. My son works as a junior doctor in Glasgow and those on call in the Infirmary talked of the numbers brought in injured that same night. It was a Friday night after an Old Firm clash.
We live in a Culture of Violence, that starts in the home and spread out into the community at large. Add to this a cocktail of alcohol over-indulgence and ease of access to drugs, and you have a lethal combination, a powder keg just waiting to explode.
Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, recently suggested in the press that it was time for an Open Debate on this pressing subject. Perhaps we need to look at other cosmopolitan areas such as New York, which used to have a high level of violence, and adopted a zero tolerance approach several years ago – which meant targeting young criminals and the smallest crimes, before it leads to the more serious ones. My daughter was there this summer and found New York a safer city to walk around in than Glasgow. We also need to tackle the alcohol and drug abuse problems, through education and through stricter laws on selling alcohol to the very young.
The introduction of laws banning physical violence in the home may help to raise awareness that violence towards others is not acceptable behaviour in our society. This also raises questions about our society’s attitude to violence generally, as a way of controlling others. There are other more successful ways of coping with problems and with young children. Another problem is the severe lack of male role models for many young boys growing up here, and the fact that Scotland has such a high rate of single parent families.
The second issue is attitudes to binge drinking. We glorify ‘being drunk’ and ‘binge drinking’ in Scotland – as if it is something to be proud of. A whole generation is being caught up in a cheap triple alcoholic haze. Do we care? Well we should. We set the example by what we do and say. My view is it is the entire ‘Culture’ and attitudes here in Scotland that have to change, and not about a few experts telling the less fortunate to behave better.
It is time we looked seriously at these and other alternative ways of behaving, before youth violence escalates even further on our streets.