13 March 2015

Blame


Several years ago, a teenage boy I used to teach had an unfortunate accident. One weekend evening, along with some other lads, he had climbed up on the roof of a local sports centre. I guess they were "having fun" as mischievous teenage boys are wont to do. But this time he didn't get away with it because when trying to get back down to earth, he slipped and broke an arm as well as injuring his back. Oh dear!

But who was to blame? Incredibly, appallingly and ultimately successfully his family sued the local council - arguing that the security of the sports centre was lax and their darling son shouldn't have been able to get up on that roof.. A significant financial settlement was agreed out of court.

Recently,  three stupid  Muslim schoolgirls from Bethnal Green in London travelled surreptitiously to Syria to link up with the Islamic State circus. Almost immediately, blame filled the airwaves. The families blamed the police while the government blamed the Turkish authorities who had allowed these three naive girls to pass through their country unchallenged. In  my view, it was the girls themselves who were to blame and the families are almost as bad - trying to pass the buck to the police about their own teenagers - girls who slept under their own roofs.

A couple of weeks ago as the evil "Jihadi John" was revealed to be the son of an immigrant family from Kuwait, you had a representative of an organisation called "Cage" appearing on British television blaming the security services for radicalising the monster. How dare they question him? I was appalled that "Cage" got so much airtime to spout this nonsense. According to their slick website, "CAGE is an independent advocacy organisation working to empower communities impacted by the War on Terror. The organisation highlights and campaigns against state policies, striving for a world free from oppression and injustice."  Yeah, right!

Through a lifetime of teaching, I noticed that many teenage children seemed incapable of accepting blame for things they had done. When caught or questioned their habitual reaction was to point fingers elsewhere or simply to deny. Many times I found myself responding with "But I saw you" or "I heard you". It was always heartening when a child accepted responsibility and said "I'm sorry" or "Yes it was me". That always had the effect of deflating my annoyance. They were taking personal responsibility for their actions.

I don't know if it is the same in other countries but I think that social workers in Britain often have a raw deal. They are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Their workloads are invariably far too big as they operate in a "Catch 22" world. If a baby is harmed or there's some of this awful child sex abuse in the home or out on the streets, social workers will often find themselves in the spotlight - pilloried like medieval thieves in the village stocks. 

Proverbially, t's not right to always go beating up external scapegoats. People who were on the sidelines. We should be looking more closely at perpetrators, for by rights that is where the lion's share of the blame deserves to lie. 

28 comments:

  1. You are correct YP ~ not sure how many generations back it started but parents will fight everyone and anyone to avoid their little angels taking personal responsibility. In a fictitious school in the Western world a parent phoned the other day to say that their child's pencil case had been stolen out of their bag and they had to spend $100 replacing everything and wanted to know what that fictitious school was going to do about it. I just ask who would spend that much money on a pencil case and its contents? Give the kid a pencil, pen, ruler and rubber ~ nothing more ~ and see if that gets stolen. I bet pencil cases have been stolen since Moses was using chisels.

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    1. Moses kept his chisels in a chisel case Carol! A pencil case would have been too small - unless of course Moses had a set of very small chisels for carving small military action figures. Moses might also have had very small fingers. Regarding the pencil case you referred to - did it perchance disappear from an ICT classroom in Cairns, Queensland?

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  2. Absolutely. Everywhere seems to be riddled with this blame culture and a disgusting inability to accept personal responsibility.

    I don't know how many times I was caned at school for doing something I had owned up to. I didn't mind that so much, after all I had earned it (although fewer and lighter strokes for owning up). The canings I hated were the vicious ones for not telling I used to get at the one school I attended for a while. All they did was to teach children to lie to the bitter end or blame someone else! I still remember the name of the master responsible.

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    1. It weren't me Cap'n! The prospect of you returning to my old classroom dressed in army fatigues and sporting a big fat Russian machine gun is the stuff of nightmares. "Please no! I am sorry for using my red pen to correct your misuse of past participles! I accept full responsibility for my cruelty!"

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  3. When I worked I had cadets. I noticed a change in attitude. They wanted to run before they could walk. I used to supervise docking they said watching was boring, the first officer used to dock but if anything went wrong then it was down to me. I said boring is perfect and watching is learning. The damage a ship can do to a dock at 1'/ sec has to be seen, doesnt bare thinking about. They are just wee tossers.

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    1. But don't you think that those "wee tossers" have become like that because of the times we live in? They absorb the status quo like porridge.

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  4. It's a little different living in a farm community. People know that boys will be boys. They have dirt clod fights, they goof around on their motorcycles, there's a lot more freedom to just be a kid. But if there's any vandalism, all the kids are guilty until proven innocent, and they know it, and they'll all have to work off the crime. As parents, we don't get between our kid and other adults. If a farmer needs to kick juvenile butt, that's between him and the kid. If his kid messes up at my house, I'm in charge. The workers out in the fields are mostly parents, too, and they keep an eye on the kids. The kids all know this and we seldom have problems. There is such a cultural disconnect between how are kids are raised, though, and what goes on at the public school in our area, which is comprised mostly of privileged suburban brats, a lot of us send our kids to small private schools instead. Or home school.

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    1. Taking charge of your kid's education is, in my mind, a mark of taking personal responsibility.

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    2. Interesting Jan ~ thank you for sharing that from your part of the world.

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    3. In Janice County CA ain't nobody gonna mess with the sheriff!

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  5. Blame culture
    It invades EVERYTHING today..........
    I am all for accountability but there is not a baddie at EVERY turn
    Sigh

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    1. ....nor shouldthere be

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    2. Fortunately most people are not baddies and they accept the consequences of their actions.

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  6. Great post and a valid point. We'd all be better off if we admitted our mistakes.

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  7. Totally agree with you YP.

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    1. Glad to know I am not alone in this thinking.

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  8. Who can I blame for my current bout of sciatica and I blame that tree up the road for my pants now sticking to the seat I am sitting on because I sat on the brick fence beneath the tree to watch while a very young couple with plenty of the folding stuff eventually became the successful bidders at an auction this morning.

    How am I doing in the blame game. Not too much information I hope.

    Ms Soup

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    1. How are the very young couple going to dig up the tree and take it home?

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  9. Responsibility! One of my favourite topics, and one I am rather good at (when it comes to myself).
    Since I never had (and never wanted) children, I've often heard the argument that one does never really grow up unless they have children. Well, for one thing, is not growing up so bad? Also, according to my experience, there are plenty of people out there who have children who (not the children, the parents) don't behave all that "grown-up" a lot of the time, while others who take responsibility for their own actions and lives are much more "adult" independently of their biological age and/or family status.
    What I really detest is people whining about home-made problems and never doing something about them. I want to take them by the throat (well, maybe the shoulders would be enough), give them a good shake and tell them to finally take responsibility for their own bodies, minds and lives.

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    1. Yes Miss Arian, if you took them by the throat you would find yourself in hot water. This topic seems to have riled you - like being at the zoo and poking a lion with a sharp stick. Grrrr! As I have "grown up" I have tried to retain some of my childishness.

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  10. If the parents of those stupid girls had anything about them, they would have been on the first plane to Turkey to get them back! If it's any consolation, those girls are going to get the f*** fright of their lives when they get to Syria.

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    1. What kind of daughters are they? Surely they should have phoned home to put their parents' minds at rest. My daughter always kept us in the loop. It's only natural.

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    2. They are silly, spoiled girls who will soon be crying to go home to their parents, and won't be able to.

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  11. When I was a young person, I remember that:
    .....many people pleaded guilty in a court of law when they were guilty
    .....there was a community (even if it was only your block) that looked after the children and each other and weren't reluctant to correct them and that community as were teachers, parents and grandparents was respected by the children
    .....mis-behaving sports figures and movie stars were not a child's heros.
    .....mothers and fathers put their children first (well, most of them anyway) and spent time with them instead of time at the gym or meeting up with friends after work for a couple of hours

    I think responsibility for your actions is a direct result of respect for yourself and others.

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    1. You re so right Mama Thyme. It was the same on this side of the Atlantic. People were far les ready to point their fingers at others.

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  12. A post to be applauded YP. One of the greatest problems with the NHS here is that instead of being allowed to get on with his or her job every health worker is having to fill in forms and so on because the second the tiniest thing goes wrong we sue. So bureaucracy has to be prepared to defend itself and its staff. Multiply that by every other public service and ask yourself why we are run by rules and managers and not by people actually getting on with the job. This has now migrated to almost every aspect of our lives in the private sector as well. It's been a pet hobbyhorse of mine for a long time. Take responsibility for your actions. Admit when you are wrong. Life will be so much simpler, cheaper and, above all else, honest. But, hey, who cares when we can make a quick buck suing someone else.

    I apologise for the lack of brief, logical, rational argument but it would take a book to truly express my views on this topic.

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    1. Same here, Graham, same here.

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