Assault leads to debate on respect
● Footage of youths pursuing another girl through Trident Retail Park in Runcorn. At the end of the clip, one girl can be seen clearly striking out at the victim
AN unpleasant incident in Runcorn in which a teenage girl was followed by a group of youths then assaulted has sparked a debate over to what extent parents are responsible for their children’s behaviour.
The girl’s ordeal happened on Saturday, December 29, at around 5.30am at Trident Retail Park, with video circulating online showing the victim being followed, while someone behind the camera goads another girl to ‘wig her’, ‘t**t her’, ‘go ‘ed’ and ‘just hit her’.
At the end of the clip, she appears to be hit before walking away.
Readers were shocked by what appeared to be flagrant bullying, an outnumbered victim, and the numbers involved in following her, which police said had grown from an initial group of five youths.
It was not the only problem reported in the recently, with Runcorn police having raised concerns about issues around Trident Retail Park and Runcorn Shopping City and ‘abusive youths’ ‘throwing their drinks around’.
In November 2017, a 12-year-old boy suffered a nasty wound below his eye after a metal pole was thrown at him by a group of children at the same retail park.
Efforts are ongoing to tackle youth anti-social behaviour in the area, including the opening of the shopping centre’s Youth Zone, partly backed by Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner.
Following the incident on December 29, shocked social media users said parents have to take responsibility for how their children behave.
Others said that families can only do so much to influence their young ones and there are factors beyond their control such as individual nature, general trends and other issues such as school discipline and the risk of ‘falling in with the wrong crowd’.
The overall thrust of readers’ comments was that, by and large, parents ● had a vital role to play.
Lesley Tudor Horsefield said: “I think their parents should take some responsibility, if you’re brought up with good morals & taught how to respect others then bullying shouldn’t be an issue.”
Jens Page said: “We are responsible for our kids no matter where they are, home, school or out and about.”
Janine Sheldon steered a middle path, saying: “Parents are responsible for making sure the children own up to what they do and are dealt with accordingly.
“I don’t think it’s fair that parents get blamed though.
“You can do your best to be the best parent possible but they can be led along the wrong path or make bad choices.”
Tony Quinn believes more discipline is needed: “We are all responsible.....we changed laws...created new laws all which stop proper parenting ....we educate the children on these laws in effect telling them they can do as they please....so many cries of let the children be children its about time we allowed the parents to be parents and allowed the police and the judicial system to punish in a more effective manner.”
Paul Martin placed parents at the centre of how children turn out: “Eve- ryone has a choice to make if children are taught right from wrong from their parents then they have the choice to behave themselves when they are out.
“Same as in school, discipline starts at home so don’t blame teachers for your child’s behaviour!”
Laura Louise Reed said peer pressure and trends play a bigger role, such as bullying, which she said was becoming worse in Halton: “I don’t blame the parents at all. Can’t keep an eye on them all the time. Was once a teenager myself. I did used to lie about where i was (sorry mum lol) was never bad by all means things have changed a lot. But I do think kids are pressured by their friends! And they have the biggest impact on them. You are who you hang around with. They are growing up in a horrible world where they will do anything to fit in. It’s wrong and I hope they were punished for it. Bullying is getting worse in Halton lately always hearing stories about it. It’s heart breaking. I worry about how it will be when my 2 kids are teenagers.”
Michaela Kayla Mason placed responsibility with the parents. She said: “Without doubt respect should begin at home from an early age, and should continue as our children are growing up. Children should be taught kindness, sharing & caring for others, and again should be instilled in them as they are growing. Manners....Please & thankyou to name a few. Children will copy their elders (parents & others) from an early age so it is important that we set a good example. So yes, parents are responsible for their children’s behaviour...”
Eve Etienne again placed the greater emphasis on parenting: “Raise your kids with respect and teach them life lessons so they think morally and respect other members of society. Buddhism techniques also help.”
Chris Evans called on the media to give more prominence to good kids to better reflect the range of young people out there, saying: “Half and half – they need to take some responsibility for it – they after all are responsible for their child’s upbringing and discipline – my kid doesn’t run riot in the streets causing problems for others as she knows the difference between right and wrong and been brought up as such – yet so many parents blame teachers, police and everyone else for their kids’ behaviour or blaming the system rather than teaching their kids to take responsibility for their own actions.
“But as with society today a small number of unruly kids make a name for all youths as you never hear about the kids studying, see articles about the kids giving up their time for charities or working hard to earn extra pocket money – society only ever sees the bad ones and the media need to take some responsibility for that also.”
Lee Cookson-Todd said sometimes it’s more complicated: “I don’t think they are (responsible) all of the time. Some amazing kids have the worst parents and they literally raise themselves and some parents that try their best have kids that just go off the rails. I think it’s mob mentality with these kids. As individuals, they wouldn’t dream of behaving this way, egged on by a gang and some of them will probably be acting out of character.”
Several took the view that a proverbial ‘slap on the wrist’ approach did not work.
Zoey Walsh said: “Parents can’t be held responsible 100% of the time. But if they become aware of their behaviour then they should be spo- ken to by the police.
“Plus many of them just get a slap on the wrist from local authorities so they’re just going to keep pushing them to see how far they can go.”
Mark Tinsley said the prevalence of smartphones was revealing a perennial issue that has been there down the generations: “It’s not kids these days.”
“Kids have always been this way, it’s only because of camera phones and Facebook that it’s more publicised. “That’s a good thing.” In the eyes of the law, the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years, meaning under that age children cannot be held criminally responsible although they can receive curfews banning them from being in public from 6-9pm unless accompanied by an adult, or a Child Safety Order placing them under the supervision of a youth offending team.
Parents of children who end up in trouble with the law can also be asked to attend a parenting programme, sign a parenting contract or be slapped with a Parenting Order in court.
According to Halton Borough Council, criminality among the young can in some cases also be a symptom of neglect and parents not providing proper boundaries to behaviour and failing to prevent children from being exposed to ‘avoidable risks’.
Cineworld cinema at Trident Retail Park in Runcorn