Friday, 15 March 2013

Our Culture of Violence

I am writing about the tragic death of a young 20yr-old boy who lived behind us here in a northern suburb of Glasgow. He was a strong young rugby playing man who was violently and indiscriminately attacked in the centre of Glasgow by two youths on the night of an old firm game. He was beaten on his head with a baseball bat. A recent studio from California cited Scotland as having the highest rates of Youth violence in the world and 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 this random attack, injured several others that very 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, the Rangers vs Celtic football game. 

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 and a powder keg 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. We need to look at other cosmopolitan areas such as New York which used to have a high level of violence and who adopted a ‘zero tolerance’ approach several years ago, which meant targeting young criminals and the smallest crimes before they resulted in more serious crimes. My daughter was in New York this past summer and found she found the city a safer place to walk around in than Glasgow. We also need to tackle alcohol and drug abuse problems through education and through stricter laws on selling alcohol to the very young.  

The introduction of new Laws banning physical violence in the home may help to raise awareness that violence towards others is not acceptable behaviour in our modern 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 on the UK 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.