Save us from the parent thugs

8th June 2001 at 01:00
THE trouble with children today is that they just can't seem to keep their parents under control. That appears to be the view of Britain's headteachers anyway.

I've been intrigued to read the bizarre proposal that children with badly-behaved parents may in future find themselves thrown out of school. Is it just me, or has life in Britain today gone totally topsy turvy? How often do you see irate kids in Tesco walloping mum while she stands by, totally unable to respond for fear of prosecution?

When I was a baby, my mother was once asked to leave a restaurant because I was upsetting the other diners. This was harsh but at least it made sense. My parents were responsible for my behaviour. Children cannot be held accountable for what their parents do.

For headteachers to believe that a threat of expulsion will bring unruly parents into line is naive. The kind of slob who bursts into school and prescotts his way around the staffroom is hardly likely to be cowed by the possibility of little Wayne Jnr being unable to complete his GCSE coursework.

But what are we to do? Many headteachers already have panic buttons which buzz direct to the local police station - or at least get through to its ansaphone - but a lot of violence can happen in the time it takes for a Panda to be despatched. The only answer is for schools to have their own security staff. We stiffly resist this idea in Britain, as if it posits some failure on the part of the teaching profession that our educators cannot disarm young thugs, or indeed the parents of thugs. Our local Tesco has two uniformed security guys who are very pleasant and helpful and quite deft at sorting out unruly behaviour but no-one suggests that their presence somehow detracts from the manager's credentials as a vendor of household consumerables.

Sure, it says something sad about society when we need security people in our shops and schools, but it makes a hell of a lot more sense than punishing kids for what their parents get up to. The sins of the father should mean a visit to the police station, not a visitation on the child.

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