So first Tottenham was set on fire - we thought it was funny and would probably be an improvement on an already sh*te area. Then the smashing, burning and shopping without paying spread to Enfield (way too close to home), the rest of London and England. Barnet went into panic mode on Monday evening - when every shop shut at 4.30pm - but recovered by Tuesday when they realised there isn't really much to attract a riot.
The motivation of these kids to go out smashing and stealing is something that needs to be understood. I've noticed that people of a certain generation (cough, middle aged Daily Mail readers, cough) have been quick to point the finger at a perceived lack of discipline, the end of caning in schools, and needing National Service. At the other end of the spectrum, we have columnists blaming cuts to services, lack of jobs, and tuition fees. And then there's me in the middle still wondering how 14 year old's can afford Blackberries despite being at school full time.
Understanding the background isn't going to be as easy as so many people think. It's amazing how people can be so quick to have an opinion, despite not being in possession of the facts. Suddenly everyone is an expert in how society does or doesn't work. I can't help thinking that a lack of anything stimulating to do over the long summer is a contributing factor, and that they are looting because they are bored. This is probably not helped by the cuts to libraries and youth services, but I don't think the riots were primarily political.
The reaction from the media and the public has been way out of proportion. First the Daily Mail blamed twitter users for orchestrating the riots, then (when it was clear twitter had nothing to do with it) members of the public called for the army to be brought in and set up vigilante groups to "protect" their communities. Unfortunately, the problem with those solutions is that the army would have made England look like a war zone, and vigilantism just meets violence with violence which does not help anybody.
The social media response made me smile. The twitter/facebook organised Riot Clean Up and Operation Cup of Tea, were wonderfully positive responses in an arena becoming filled with dirt from the constant media mud slinging.
So, for the time being, I can't provide any answers for the trouble of the past week. There are no simple answers, and anyone who thinks they have the answer is a fool. It could be any combination of parenting, cuts, or boredom.