As the London riots have made the front page of the New York Times and the situation in Northern Ireland is made to look tame, why do these young people feel like it's acceptable to burn down, loot and destroy the very country that made them?
There are over 600,000 young people in Britain considered NEET (not in education, employment or training) and have never worked a day in their lives. Aside from this lack of employment, education or training, what these young people lack is direction. They've fallen under the radar of society, and until now they've been forgotten.
But are these young people, regardless of colour, age or social background and branded under an acronym of failure and little hope, really to blame for the destruction of the capital that we're witnessing today? Yes, without a doubt, but now we're hearing the uneducated speak in the only way they know how. So why aren't we listening?
For years, we've been focused on the education system, attempting to produce the minimum of 5 GCSEs at A*- C level, but what about those that aren't capable? (And who’s to say they aren’t capable? They often just need engaging in a different way; early intervention is key - each child has individual needs, and different barriers to learning) What about those who from primary school level have been recognised as underachievers, and potential "NEETs" - those who need extra support? Yet, when they reach secondary school they are still at the same level, considered stupid by their classmates and disregarded as inadequate or un-teachable by teachers. So they disrupt teaching, their fellow students, anyone who will take notice, ending up in detention, isolation, or when the worst hits, exclusion, referred to a job centre where there are no jobs for those with qualifications, never mind those without.
But, let’s not pretend it’s just the education system that has let down our generation of young people, and let’s not take the easy option and point the finger at Cameron and his coalition. Cameron’s big changes are only the catalyst, a tipping point for all the anger and violence they have been taught from birth. These social problems have not simply appeared since the last general election but have been slowly building for decades. It’s no use looking backwards - the past cannot be changed - but these young people are part of our future, and instead of talking about it, pondering over why they’ve suddenly revolted now, we need to make an immediate change for the better.
What we need to be teaching is aspiration, hope and belief in one another. As a society, we need to be providing guidance and positive role models to an underachieving, misunderstood and overlooked generation. Let’s offer opportunities other than the dole office – more jobs, more apprenticeships, the opportunity to learn a trade, opportunities to work and make money. Young can people achieve, they can get jobs, and despite what is being said, they are willing to work and want to earn a living.