As I watched the news yesterday about the cage fighting club in Preston, Lancashire – I heard a father of an eight year old, in defence of allowing his son to take part in this awful spectacle “What else would he be doing – out on the street causing havoc?”.
Let’s just clarify this for a moment: the boy was 8. Not 18 but 8.
It was at this point that I desperately wanted the TV Interviwer to question further: I was willing him to ask “what else would be doing? – um, homework? reading? spending family time? building a moral framework?” but none of these questions were asked because, of course, that would be altogether too judgemental.
It then got me to thinking why we very much need what is often called the “Nanny State” but what is in effect “the last wall of protection if those responsible for the most vulnerable do not step up to their responsibilities” – maybe the “Big Daddy” state or the “Big Mummy” state would be a more apt expression.
It is events like this, and responses from a parent like this, that should remind us why the Nanny State is much needed because without it parents without an ounce of sense or responsibility; parents without the nous to know what is damaging and what is nurturing; parents who allow children to be morally and spiritually brutalised – would be able to carry on without anyone stepping in to intervene, to support, to redirect.
I remember hearing a woman at a social event berating Child Protection Workers as “the Nanny State busybodies” and I reminded her that many children across the UK, some of which who no one even knows exist, would be so very grateful to hear a knock on the door from one of those Nanny State busybodies.
I just remembered what the boy could indeed be doing instead of being in a cage fighting or what he could be doing instead of wreaking havoc on the street or doing homework or living a family life – he could join the Boy Scouts. Oh hold on – didn’t we lose some of these because councils starting charging for the rent of the halls to bring in revenue because of the recession?
Perhaps we need the Nanny State to be a bit wiser but we need her all the same.