"Bringing Families Together"

"Bringing Families Together"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Children's commissioner seeks to counter riot misconceptions


By Janaki Mahadevan Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The children's commissioner for England has sought to correct the "damaging misconceptions" that have led some people to believe that most of the rioters across England last week were children.

Atkinson: 'Now is the time to involve our children and young people in the debate'

Maggie Atkinson said now was the time to support the "overwhelming majority" of young people who condemn the violent behaviour witnessed.

"Sadly, some have gained the impression that most of the rioters were children but the reality is that reportedly [more than] 75 per cent of those being charged are over 18," she said. "We must do all we can to to counter these damaging misconceptions and to support the overwhelming majority of law-abiding children and young people. I am proud to say that young people have been some of the most constructive members of society in their condemnation of the rioting and in the clean-up efforts in their communities.

"We must take care not to blame and certainly not to write off a whole generation of young people. We would never claim, because a minority of adults rioted, that most adults in England are criminals."

However, Atkinson was also strong in her criticism of the actions displayed by those who looted and damaged property.

"Violence, rioting and destruction can never be justified or condoned," she said. "Those found guilty of crime should feel the full consequences of their actions, which may include a custodial sentence."

Looking to the future, Atkinson said it was imperative that the first step in understanding the root causes of the riots is to talk to those involved, including children.

"Now is the time to involve our children and young people in the debate and in finding the solutions, including those who have committed offences or whose lives are affected by whatever issues caused last week's troubling events," she said. "We need a national commitment to working as a society to ensure all children and young people have a real stake and a voice in their society."

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