Growing up as a child in the Caribbean is a challenge, growing up in New York is opportunistic, but growing up in London in this day and age is impossible, contends Ryan Bachoo, 22, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Trinidad and Tobago.
Now the world knows the power of youth.
London’s Metropolitan Police on Tuesday released CCTV images of suspects involved in the London riots. Fat and small, tall and short, urban and English, girls and boys, black and white, the only thing all rioters had in common was that they were all young.
After only the first night of riots, it became clear that the lawlessness that had come upon London was more than just a city coming together for the ‘unjust’ killing of Mark Duggan, a man shot by police the previous week.
Yet the death of a 29-year-old father of four, living in one of the toughest cities in the world in some of the toughest times, on its own has little to do with London’s crumble. Whatever Duggan is alleged to have done, our system in the democratic world is that the young man is innocent until he is proven otherwise.
It is unthinkable the number of angles there are to this nightmare of a story, but it all sums up a struggling generation of children. Growing up as a child in the Caribbean is a challenge, growing up in New York is opportunistic, but growing up in London in this day and age is impossible.
Only mere months ago, secondary school, college and university students painted the streets to express their frustration at the lack of opportunities presented to them upon finishing school. Now, across the board in Britain, students are struggling to get into colleges and universities, and if/when that doesn’t work out, there are no jobs for qualified workers, let alone unqualified.
The outlook is simple. We are in the middle of summer and a large percentage of these children would have sought summer jobs. In the end they will have been unsuccessful. Now they are forced to be at home for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that can never be a good thing for a bored and unoccupied generation.
Of course, burning down years of historical buildings and sites and looting businesses cannot be condoned, but being realistic, it was going to get to this someday. London’s intake of migrants over the last decade has gone through the roof (in 2009 – 567,000 people arrived to live in the UK whilst 371,000 left, meaning that net inward migration was 196,000 – Wikipedia), and the level of education has clearly dropped (look at the streets).
I always say this and it is no different for London: nothing is wrong with immigration, but a city and a country should only allow people who can build and sustain its communities. The city of London could have only taken so much and it was only waiting for a Mark Duggan reason to explode. You can call these kids uneducated, but they are only standing up in the only way they know for a chance to a future that looks bleak. Britain is failing its young people, just like many other parts of the world, and the government needs to make a priority of getting jobs for people, as financially difficult as it may be.
It’s all very disappointing, that one of the world’s most remarkable cities has been torn to shreds, but even more disappointing is that so many children have so much time on their hands – perhaps it will be best spent in jail until school restarts.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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