Only this week David Cameron got all tough talking about making kids to stand up when a teacher comes into the classroom.
Nice idea. It would be lovely if we could have the respectful and hardworking next generation we want just by bucking up our ideas and not being a nation of hoodie hugging pussies.
At first I didn’t give it much of a thought beyond nodding “oh yes”. For an instant I could hear chairs scraping on classroom floors as a tall figure filed the doorway, back when things were good.
But only minutes later I heard something that made me stop and think again. Something I’d love soundbite specialist Cameron to have heard.
I was at a coffee morning for parents whose children use the services of a local special needs outreach team, my son among them.
One of the women – a granny with custody of her son’s lad – told a harrowing tale.
She was explaining the reason the 12 year old doesn’t enjoy French lessons. He hates the way the rest of the children are out of control. She explained how he told of his teacher weeping as pupils – children who in some cases still require a booster seat in the car – taunted her and took photos up her skirt until she fled the room.
This grandmother in her seventies then told how these same kids terrorised her, her husband and their boy. They pelted them with eggs and stones, menaced the neighbourhood and generally made themselves obnoxious. The family were fearful of leaving their home.
“I know some of the kids, although they pull their hoods up so it’s hard to tell. The mother of one is a nice woman, they live in a big house. I bet she doesn’t know what he’s doing,” she said.
She went on to talk about how adult football supporters would come back from a game and get sport from bullying these same youngsters as they kick cans and victims around the nearby play park.
Shocked, we could only urge her to call the police and the school as often as necessary. But the advice sounded lame and left us chilled.
I wonder if Mr Cameron insisting these kids leap to their feet in class would make this gran and grandson or his French teacher feel any better.
I haven’t the slightest idea what the answer is, but I’m fairly certain standing up or otherwise isn’t it.