Vandals’ selfish badge of honour

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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Children do silly things, it’s part of growing up, their time to learn about what is right and what is wrong.

I remember my sister breaking the heads off my players in “Super Striker” because I refused let her join in and I, for some reason, popped round the neighbours once and emptied her milk bottles all over the garden.

Neither of us thought our “crime” through, it was obvious we had committed the acts, my father didn’t require Poirot to crack the case; we were banged to rights. But we were young and foolish; there was no malice involved, no pre-planning, it was just kids being kids. Once I had endured my punishment, which resulted in a raw behind from my dad’s belt and some sore knees, from scrubbing next door’s path with a toothbrush for three hours, I soon learnt the error of my ways.

For a while I wore a label in our street, for a while I was viewed with suspicion by ladies with perms and gentlemen who smoked pipes, all of whom collected their milk from their doorstep a little earlier than usual for a few weeks!

I was made to feel ashamed, like I had wronged society and I never wanted to feel that way again, it was horrible.

But these days it seems some people know no shame; how else do you explain the recent, wanton destruction of our parks and public spaces? Trees, play equipment and fences have been hacked down or sawn in half at Ferry Meadows, whilst memorial benches have been destroyed and the memorials thrown into the lakes. Central Park and Fletton Recreation Ground have also been targeted and the idiotic, city-wide trail of destruction has also taken in the Ortons, Werrington and Glinton. Children have been blamed, others think it may be somebody with a grudge or an individual with mental health issues, but whoever it is they are not ashamed of what they are doing to their city, they are proud.

They wear their destruction like a badge of honour, confident in the knowledge that our overstretched and underfunded police force is unlikely to catch them and if they do, that their tale of woe will be bought hook, line and sinker by a judge, who will probably award them damages for a splinter they received from one of the sawn in half see-saws. I cannot understand the mentality of anyone who thinks that it is a good idea to make the environment they live in worse, people who seem to take pleasure in ruining things for everyone else.

But, until society can once again make these people feel shame or remorse for their actions then they will continue to behave in this way. Maybe we have taken a softly, softly approach to this sort of thing for too long and maybe we have all been taken for suckers.

One thing I have learnt from having children is that you can never let them think that they are in charge, you need to have discipline, rules and boundaries. Perhaps it is time to show these people that we are in charge and that their misdemeanours will not be tolerated. I don’t advocate bringing back my dad’s belt but an orange jump suit and a toothbrush might be a good start.