Monday, 26 May 2008

What’s life like for fathers who stay?

Some men chose to walk away from their children while others feel cirucmstances lead them to do so.

What happens to these fathers varies: some remarry and play a role in their chidlrens’ lives while committed elsewhere; others never look back and some may vanish only to reappear later on in life.

But what about those fathers who do stay?

Rikki Beadle-Blair’d play Familyman (pictured), currently showing at Theatre Royal in Stratford, shows that those who stay and help the mothers raise the children can face challenges, especially in the age of liberal parenting.

But regardless of the challenges, it is a fulfilling role – and the child stands to gain most out of it.

Today, many young people in the boroughs this side of town are brought up by single mothers, a difficult experience for both the children and the mothers, some of who have to do two jobs to provide for their family.

Growing up in the rough estates, some boys from such backgrounds are turning to gang leaders to play the father role in their lives.

As an article in the Voice shows, boys in these ends need fathers.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Safe buses, but what happens to the troublemakers caught?

Bus journeys are likely to be more bearable from now on, with the news that teams of hundreds of uniformed police will patrol London’s stations and routes to tackle crime and other anti-social behaviour.

The Met says 440 uniformed officers will be used to establish the new teams. Each team will be made up of one sergeant, one police constable and seven police community support officers. They will be supported by 1,600 special constables.

According to the BBC, there were 5,701 reports of crime on buses in 2007, compared to 3,666 the previous year.

I would like to think we’ll see some of the new teams at Barking, Stratford and, please please, Ilford.

At this stage it is unclear what will happen to the culprits that get up to no good on buses and trains. Will the police teams slap them with the normal on-the-spot fine or arrest and jail them, if necessary?

Already the Telegraph has put dampers on the latter prospect – it reports that for every 50 youngsters arrested for carrying a sharp knife, only one was jailed.

Now, if youngsters are let off for carrying knives, how much more for being rowdy or violent on a bus?

It has been said that if they are teenagers, they will lose their right to free travel. But how can that be effective when you get routes like the bendy bus 25, where commuters can get on and off without paying?

However, notwithstanding the hazy bits of this new development, it’s still a welcome move to know that we’ll have police on the trains and buses in these parts of town.

Happy riding!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Odd couple going interesting places

A friend of mine was at the Global Day or Prayer event yesterday. She tells me there was a special appearance of – surprise, surprise – Boris Johnson, London’s new mayor.

He told the estimated 25 000 Christians that he has appointed Ray Lewis of the Eastside Young Learning Academy as his deputy youth mayor.

Who is Ray Lewis? He is the man who believes he can change black boys in East London who are about to be expelled from school.

He founded the award-winning Newham-based organisation to help instill discipline in the boys and he encourages them to get academic qualifications.

At the onset, Ray and Boris do not appear to have anything in common: Ray was raised by a struggling single mother while Etonian Boris had a more comfortable and financially secure upbringing.

Whereas Ray was ordained a church minister, Boris has had a less pious history.

But several black boys have been killing each other in various parts of the city, East London included. The problem is so serious that it is demanding people of completely different backgrounds join hands and do something about it quickly.

In their joint effort, this odd couple will take each other to different places and different people – a mass prayer meeting today and who knows where tomorrow?

Monday, 5 May 2008

Booting out cyberbullying in our schools

If for anyone else, life may become more bearable for children in school playgrounds and classrooms with the launch this week of an anti-bullying pack.

The kit is designed by Tower Hamlets Council to equip schools in East London to tackle bullying.

It provides tips on how to spot bullying and what help can be given to those that are affected by it.

The concept is not new – most schools already have anti-bullying policies in place and teachers and prefects alike can usually spot it.

So why spend money on duplicating a policy and dishing it out as novel?

It could be because there are new forms of bullying that parents (or even chidlren themselves) are not aware are actually classified as bullying and can cause serious distress to victims.

Helen Jenner, the Service Head for Early Years Children and Learning at Tower Hamlets Council (whoa … what a long title!) says that: ‘New forms of bullying like cyber-bullying have emerged in recent years, and it’s important that schools know how to identify these problems and deal with them if they occur.’

Now what is this cyber bullying?

Like me, you may suspect is involves the internet. Correct.

The department for Children, Schools and Families defines it as:

“an aggressive, intentional act carried out by a group or individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself.”

This booklet will certainly teach mischievous children in our schools that making fun of someone on YouTube or bombarding them with nasty texts for the fun of it is not acceptable.