5. Memorandum submitted by
There are well documented reasons why young
black men are overrepresented in the criminal justice system (CJS).
They are as follows:
Public perception around black people
The type of crime that young black
men are generally involved in (street crime).
My take on the situation is based on three main
points, (1) you: the establishment, (2) us: the black community/parents
(3) outside influences: society/commercial exploitation.
You: the establishmenttheir failure
to deal with the black community to challenge them as parents.
One of the key determining factors of how well a child does is
down to the educational level of the parents, both social and
academic. You have made us dangerous and exotic due to multiculturalism,
so they won't challenge the black community for fear of offending
Poor housing is a major issue. We generally
live in poor areas physically and mentally. Our children spend
more time out of the house due to lack of space in the house.
(overcrowding) which leads to more unsupervised time in which
the power of the peer group grows. No room to eat together, a
very important family activity/no room to study affect educational
attainment/no place or chance for the parents to relax leads to
stressed parents. Poor housing is depressing and can be very bad
for people's health, both physical and mental. These two things
rob children of hope. Which leads to a "I don't care"
attitude, this is why many young black children are not concerned
with the repercussions of being involved with the law.
Poor schoolseducation is a key
factor in the development of the black community. We need more
black teachers; we need to do everything we can to raise the educational
attainment of black boys in particular setting. Things such as
after school activities would be hugely important. In addition,
schools need to give a great moral and disciplinary output, to
combat the overwhelming power of the peer group and outside influences,
such as commercial exploitation and prevailing liberalism in our
media around areas such as sexual conduct. Much of the media our
children are exposed to is misogynistic, highly violent and acts
as an advert for inappropriate behaviour by young people. You
the establishment have done very little to challenge the commercial
exploitation of our young people. In addition, young black people
are always portrayed as singers or sport people and not as bankers,
doctors, managing directors and other white collar roles. This
robs us of any realistic ambitions. There need to be systems built
that keep young black men and their parents engaged in the education
system for longer with an emphasis on high academic achievement,
not only vocational study.
We need a justice system that puts young people
off crime early without criminalising them, as our current system
does not act as a deterrent for children either black or white.
The current system is toothless until you have been caught up
in it for sometime, then it bites your head off. An example of
this is how many times young people being monitored by youth offending
teams breach their bail conditions. They feel they are getting
away with it until they get a custodial sentence. They have no
respect for the system until it's too late, this needs to be changed.
Parents should also be held accountable for the actions of their
children in a more direct way than they are now. We also need
a national debate around what is an acceptable level of parenting,
as there are great disparities from community to community and
class to class. We need a minimum standard set in Britain, if
necessary in law.
There is currently no financial incentive to
marry. Single parents do better in the tax and benefit system.
The help for married/two parent families should be increased because
statistics show that children from married/two parent families
do better in almost all areas. So we should encourage married
families and not feel bad about supporting them financially.
Us: the way in which our children are
socialised, currently means that peer pressure/peer group has
become more powerful than any authority figure or their families
(family structure has been weakened).
As a community we need to strengthen our family
base, be inward looking to solve some of our own problems. We
need to encourage our family groups to stay together; we need
to encourage our young men to take responsibility for their children
and their families. We should be steering our young people away
from single parenthood and benefit dependency. We need to make
achievement seem possible credible and desirable within our communities.
Outside influencesLiberalism in
our media eg pornographic and misogynistic material confuse messages
to parents and young people eg the reclassification of cannabis,
abortions for girls as young as 14 years without their parents'
knowledge, has normalised many aspects of teenage behaviour that
lead to criminality. Certain sections of the British population
are more vulnerable to these things, poorer communities and in
particular black communities.
My young people call it "Ghetto Mentality",
they'll tell you how they're "on road" and how they
have to "go out there", because they need a lot of money.
"On road" means that they're out in the world trying
to get onby any means necessary a world in which your normal
rules don't apply, taking adult decisions and taking on adults,
even through criminal activity. In short there's a fatalism that
they will end up in crime, pregnant or experience violence etc.
Although that is a small proportion of our young people, it's
growing, it's bigger than in the white community, and big enough
to affect the behaviour of the black youngsters in general. Many
black boys feel they have to be a "Bad Man" in order
Black people are looked upon as criminals and
therefore it becomes a self fulfilling prophesy, this removes
the hope from black children that they can progress through normal
avenues. This is one of the ways the "Ghetto Mentality"
This is where role models and greater educational attainment are
of the utmost importance.
Commercial exploitationour young
people are mercilessly exploited on a commercial level (as are
all children/young people) and this has created a want of material
things. It's given them the mentality to have everything now,
they are living in a fantasy world, where these false under-balanced
messages take on an unreal importance. They have an ingrained
world view that they are entitled to these things; no one has
spoken to them about the hard work involved in getting these things.
Much of the music they listen to tells them exactly this, reinforcing
this message. It's also extremely violent and this plays into
their narrow world view.
Music and magazines trivialise women and normalise
risky sexual behaviour contributing directly to the youth pregnancy
and sexual health issues as well as our teenage drinking epidemic.
This is because young men get to set the sexual agenda for young
women, all of these factors play into the ghetto mentality and
the "Kidulthood" way of life, which steers our young
people from our socially accepted norms and tunnels them into
a crime riddled existence.
My final point is this. The black community
needs to be congratulated on the progress we have made in the
last 50 years; this will encourage our community to keep on with
this difficult process.
All these issues and many more I haven't mentioned
here, impact on the black community; they also impact on the poorer
white communities just as hard. If these things are not addressed
soon we have a social nightmare on our hands which could have