This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Monday, August 12, 2013

You is kind, you is smart and you is important

I watched "The Help" last night. Brilliant film. Do watch it if you can. It portrays 1960's Mississippi: the role of African American Maids and their WASP(ish) bosses. It is a study in historical (I hope) racism, casual heartless acts and exploitation with some some quite breathtaking acting from the mostly female cast.

The irony of one maid doing what she could to help a small girl grow up to be a confident young woman who in all likelihood would become a fearful racist like her mother, was not lost on me. But it reminded me of was the role of self confidence / belief / worth in so many dimensions of crime and anti social behaviour.

I am no expert of course, but I suspect that valuing and respecting oneself is a critical aspect in domestic violence. And I do not just mean that in relation to the victims, but also the perpetrators too. In my view no truly self respecting and confident man would ever use violence, intimidation or bullying in a relationship.

And I think that many people who carry out criminal acts also lack self confidence and respect since they are prepared to risk their status in society for the sake of some burgled items or stolen goods. And when they get caught, the criminal justice system is often perfectly designed to corrode what little self respect they have been left with.

I know it is not that simple. But I maintain that a feeling of self worth and of being confident is one of the surest ways to reduce a persons inclination to commit crime. As a society, what do we do about that?
  • We short change children in schools my marginalising personal, social and health education
  • News sources continually highlight all the bad things that young people do, with precious little exposure of all the many more good things
  • We punish the poor and vulnerable with benefit changes that are just plain mean 
  • The media trumpet words like scroungers, illegals and workshy, reinforcing "us & then" and ideas like the deserving (and undeserving) poor
  • We create working conditions (such as zero hour contracts) which foster fear, compliance and lack of purpose
I could go on.

The question is: will this cycle ever stop? Where are the bold actions (by PCCs, Well Being Boards and all the professionals involved) designed to boost people's self confidence and worth?

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