Our Feral Cities…and Towns…and Villages

Gone are the days when an elderly lady could take a leisurely stroll on a Summer evening, take a bus ride to the nearest city and come back at dusk or go to visit a grandchild by train. Forty years ago, such activities were a normal part of life. Today in 2010, they can be a death sentence.

This article does not refer to any particular country, city, town, village of community but is composed based on reports from communities across the USA, Europe, Latin America and even certain cities in Asia. Wherever they are, it is supposed that readers will feel, how true it is and what is happening to our society?

The main symptom of this apparent breakdown in social structure is the rise of the phenomenon called the Feral Kid. The Feral Kid is a juvenile who hangs around with groups of others, frequently males, in environments in which when a critical mass of stupidity is reached (often fuelled by alcohol) crises occur.

These can be as innocuous as trashing a car park, overturning trash cans, or progressively more serious, rendering railway stations unfit for use plastering them with vomit and excreta, smashing private property or worse, attacks on other groups of youths, any adult who confronts them or even an old lady, kicked into a visit to the hospital accident and emergency ward on her way home on a summer evening after visiting a grandchild. Just for the hell of it.

Other visible aspects of this phenomenon are growing numbers of youngsters admitted to hospital with conditions provoked by excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs, many times consumed at discotheques, where girls as young as twelve or thirteen can be seen made up, dressed as adults and dancing with adult males.

For a start, why are youngsters being supplied with alcohol? Before this, why are they even thinking of consuming alcohol at that age? In the past it was something an adolescent was allowed to do at meal times (perhaps a single glass of wine or wine mixed with water on a special occasion) and nobody thought of binge-drinking bottles of spirits, before going out.

The objective is no longer to have fun and interact, it is to get blasted and sent to cloud cuckoo land before the evening even begins. Is the world we have created really so negative that our children cannot go out for an evening in a normal state of mind enjoying the environment around them?

Secondly, the breakdown of the nuclear family has not been replaced by anything approaching a safety net. The housewife was replaced by the working mother; the working mother has been replaced by the single-parent family while at the same time the authority of the teacher (do that and you are beaten; complain and you get another hiding at home) has been taken away and the symbolic power resides with…the Feral Kid.

The word “education” comes from the Latin root “e-“ (out, from) and “ducare” (to lead), a child has to “be led out” of childhood and into the adult world and for this either the parents themselves do the leading, or else there is a system in place which retains control.

Give a class of kids too much freedom and they turn into a screaming bunch of savages (as per Lord of the Flies) therefore it is not the Feral Kids we should be blaming, it is the irresponsibility of a generation of adults which wrongly mistook “being friendly” with “being responsible”, coupled with other adults who turn a blind eye as to who is buying the alcohol or who purposefully target youngsters with drugs.

However monstrous the result of what is lurking in the shadows of our communities these days, the root cause is clear to identify yet difficult to remedy. Draconian measures such as CCTV, extra policing and zero tolerance have been postulated by some, but is this what our societies really want?




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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey