The more you read about the murder of Rhys Jones, the more shocking it becomes. The combination of a BMX—a symbol of childhood fun—and a brutal shooting brings home just how brutalised our society has become. Jon Swain’s piece in The Sunday Times comparing Liverpool to the war zones he has reported from painfully details this point. But the sheer level of outrage this pedal-by-shooting has generated should give us hope; especially if this outrage can be harnessed to effect a substantive change in our culture. Before moving back to London last year, I lived in Washington for four years where the kind of incident we saw in Croxteth Park on Wednesday night was tragically common but hardly dominated even one news-cycle. As a country, we thankfully seem to have grasped that we need to address these problems before they pass a point from which it becomes nigh-on impossible to return.
If we are to reverse this trend, then children need to grow up in a stable and loving environment which is what makes today’s report in The Sunday Times about how 1.7 million children are now being brought up by parents dependent on drink or drugs so worrying. This number, up a third since 2003, illustrates the challenge that we face. What hope do these children have coming from this kind of background?
This is a problem that the state can’t solve alone; there is only so much that social services and early years education can do. Any politician who claims that they know how to heal our broken society, has to be able to explain how this number can be brought down.