…you don’t seem to like it much:
There is no happy ending in sight. The best case is one that will see Joe end up with a criminal record and all the implications that brings in his life ahead. Yet this is not a boy from a chaotic home. This is not a boy with unreliable, inadequate, failing parents. This is not a boy without wider access to people who know how to knock on official doors and demand support, who have worked with his parents in pursuing every avenue to keep this 15-year-old safe.
Yes, ‘Joe’ (not his real name, that’s almost certain to be Duwayne or Mohammed) has ‘fallen in’ with a county lines drug gang.
The whole system is failing this vulnerable boy.
Is it? Well, let’s take a look.
Where, for example, is the safe, secure, therapeutic place he and other at-risk children (there an estimated 4,000 involved in county lines in London alone, according to the Children’s Society) can be taken to continue their education away from those who groom, exploit and intimidate them? Nowhere.
We shut them all down, because you found them ‘degrading’, remember?
Why do the police feel so powerless to challenge and confront the criminals running these gangs before disaster strikes?
What is tying their hands behind their backs from confiscating those Nokias…
A little thing called ‘property rights’, perhaps?
…and why do social workers have so few tools to enable them to do their jobs supporting such vulnerable children?
Because they spend all their time harassing the parents who dare to challenge the State instead?
“I’m a man, now,” Joe has told us so many times of late when challenged. He isn’t. He is a child…
And yet, if he wanted to be Jolene, you’d demand that the NHS treat him.
…and we – his parents, his extended family, those with a duty to help us, the state with all its resources, and the society in which he lives – should be able to protect him.
It’s the society in which he lives’ that has ensured he can’t be protected. Who built that society? The people who read and write for the ‘Guardian’.
You got the society you wanted, didn’t you?