Time for talking is over!
One year ago, we marched together when young 14-year-old Martin Dinnegan was killed on the corner of our street. A shrine is still there where he died. We marched in support of his parents who asked why innocent children were being allowed to die on the
One year ago, we marched together when young 14-year-old Martin Dinnegan was killed on the corner of our street. A shrine is still there where he died.
We marched in support of his parents who asked why innocent children were being allowed to die on the streets. They wanted something to be done. They asked the government to ban knives and weapons from the streets by increasing the punishment for possession, and we asked our council, to set up a commission to examine what could be done in Islington, towards helping to look into how we could improve youth services and halt these terrible crimes.
Nothing has been done. A sort of committee was set up by the local authority and a report was done which has been what? Never heard of again! A lip service was paid to the Dinnegan family's agony.
Now once again, another youth has fallen victim on our streets - 16-year-old Ben Kinsella. And another march takes place pleading for action.
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Just how many more of our children have to be killed before we wake up and do something about it. This happened in Los Angeles in the 1980s and early 90s till they finally did something about it. They cleared the streets to make them safe. No gangs, no gatherings, constant checks all over the city, severe punishments for those carrying any weaponry.
But it went hand in hand with the carrot of giving these youths back the value of life that they had lost - because they finally grasped that that was part of the reason behind what they were doing. Inactivity, poverty lack of self-esteem, abuse in some cases, low educational achievement and no prospects for the future beyond the unemployment queues. When they constantly hear people saying that we are a rich country those who have little or nothing naturally wonder where their share of it is.
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There is no justification for these youth killings to continue other than lack of will by the authorities and the Government to make a similar decision.
My own personal overview is that we should create community troops. All youths should have to do time as a community trooper. They can then partake in community work in their boroughs and be trained towards the skills that they are interested in. In return they get a government subsidy rather than unemployment benefit. This allows them to feel valued, to mix with young people from different backgrounds.
We have just experienced that with a group of youths helping out in one of the local parks. At first they were diffident but by the end of the day they wanted to know when they could come back again. They all went home exhausted but happy to have achieved something. The one saving grace we used to have was National Service. Young men came out of that ready and trained for the rest of their life. We have to find an alternative.
- Frances Davidson. (organiser of the largest Neighbourhood watch and Community Scheme in Islington), N7.