On Saturday, I was walking through the centre of Manchester after my Open University day school – pretty much minding my own business. I was pretty tired and was looking forward to a nice brew. However, as I was walking up Mosely Street I noticed a group of youths, probably between the ages of 12 and 16 generally being disrespectful to those passing them – shouting comments and throwing things and spitting. I was pretty appalled, but wasn’t going to confront them and continued to walk, quite speedily and passed the group.

But however this proved to be of a stupid move on my part as the group decided to turn their taunts onto me and as I moved into Piccadilly Gardens and they begun to throw stones at me. Continuing to walk I finally, stopped as a stone hit the back of my leg, turned and looked to the group who all stopped in their tracks and said “What do you think you’re doing?”, the began laughing and I shot them a dirty looking and increased my pace away from them.

Why did this even happen? What is wrong with people?

It’s easy for people to play the blame game when it comes to the attitude and anti-social behaviour of the under classes – growing up on a council estate, with a single parent who worked part-time (with 4 children to bring up), and relied on additional support from benefits to maintain a basic standard of living – So, I can honestly say that I’ve had first-hand experience of growing up in similar economic and sociological circumstances.

I won’t turn around and say that everyone who I grew up around (on the estate) have all turned out perfect. Prison for some has become commonplace and for others, hard work and a respectful attitude has built them to be better people than some of the middle class-university educated people out there.

After the riots across the country last year, I predicted that the reason will be analysed and argued and blame will be thrown around like a bull in a china shop as to who was responsible and why it happened – and I was right. But I’m not here to reignite that debate – because it’s pointless.

After giving this a lot of consideration, I can quite happily say that I’ve come to the conclusion that these teenagers who think it’s okay to throw things at complete strangers are lacking in the core traits that make people decent – honest, respect, discipline.

I suggest that for 18 year old men and women, who have chosen not to continue their education, but do not find work or an apprenticeship are enlisted for 2 years of national service. I’m sure in less than six months the officers in the army can probably do more for these kids than 10 years of watching their parents sat on their fat arses letting their kids get away with anything.

This country is lacking in national pride and it’s a generational thing – not 30- 40 years ago men and women in this country had national pride, we worked hard – mining, manufacturing – building this great country – but people don’t seem to want work hard any more – it’s like they want a free ride – last week there was another round of strike action due to the cut in pensions, but there were people who didn’t strike – they didn’t go to work, but they didn’t strike either– any why? – Because it was raining. What a joke.

I think 2 years in the army will give a generation the skills, not just work skills, but personal skills -and it’ll give some who have the ability and can’t find work, so make work – build businesses -they’ll earn a wage while in the army, so they’ll not live on handouts. And it’ll strengthen the UK as a country and help us support others who need it.

it can be argued that the defence budget may be too tight for this; but think of it in this way, once these kids finish their service, they’ll have the skills to continue working and the respect so employers will want to employ them – and therefore they’ll be contributing, rather than living on benefits.

It’s just another (and of many) national service suggestions, but their has got to be a way for sorting out this lost generation, before it becomes a generation dependent on the state and on petty crime.

Written with the assistance of Glen Gifford

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