Preventing Crime, or Terrorizing Tots?

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In Britain, the government wants to get tough on crime by identifying potential criminals while they are still mere terrorizing tots. The Crime Reduction Review, a leaked study commissioned by Prime Minister Tony Blair, suggests that wayward children as young as three should be singled out in the nursery and attend programs intended to curb their behavior, or even be removed to foster-care.

Quite a different strategy on "child-proofing the world": The British government suggests protecting society from the diapered ruffians based on the unscientific impressions of child-care workers.

Research cited in the 250-page CRR states that 85 percent of juvenile delinquents in detention facilities were bullies in school; and that 43 percent of imprisoned adults have children who are also criminals. Although science can't point to a primary origin of criminal behavior, the study is right in concluding that environment plays a significant role in shaping young minds.

Which begs the question, how exactly would a seven year-old respond to learning that she has been classified as a potential criminal as a toddler and that nanny was actually a rehab counselor?

For years, the good people at Reason have been protecting you from the menace of juvenile delinquency. Chris Lehmann lifted the "siege" against parents a few years back, and Carl F. Horowitz fought against a mall-full of consumerized teenaged zombies. Nick Gillespie gave the old in-out to the bogus boom in "middle-class teen prostitutes" a few years back.

NEXT: Hey, What about Radnabik—I mean Badnarik?

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  1. “Diapered Ruffians,” yet another great band name.

  2. Johnny was bad, even as a child everybody could tell
    Everyone said if you don?t get straight
    You?ll surely go to hell

    But johnny didn?t care
    He was an outlaw by the time that he was
    Ten years old
    He didn?t wanna do what he was told
    Just a prankster, juvenile gangster

    His teachers didn?t understand
    They kicked him out of school
    At a tender early age
    Just because he didn?t want to learn things
    (had other interests)
    He liked to burn things

    The lady down the block
    She had a radio that johnny wanted oh so bad
    So he took it the first chance he had
    Then he shot her in the leg
    And this is what she said
    Only a lad
    You really can?t blame him
    Only a lad
    Society made him
    Only a lad
    He?s our responsibility
    Only a lad
    He really couldn?t help it
    Only a lad
    He didn?t want to do it
    Only a lad
    He?s underprivileged and abused
    Perhaps a little bit confused

    His parents gave up they couldn?t influence his attitude
    Nobody could help
    The little man had no gratitude

    And when he stole the car
    Nobody dreamed that he would
    Try to take it so far
    He didn?t mean to hit the poor man
    Who had to go and die
    It made the judge cry

    It?s not his fault that he can?t believe
    It?s not his fault that he can?t behave
    Society made him go astray
    Perhaps if we?re nice he?ll go away
    Perhaps he?ll go away
    He?ll go away

    Hey there johnny you really don?t fool me
    You get away with murder
    And you think it?s funny
    You don?t give a damn if we live or if we die
    Hey there johnny boy
    I hope you fry!

  3. What’s scary is that I can’t think of a single toddler anywhere who doesn’t occasionally do things that would be considered sociopathic in adults. So what kid will avoid being labeled a potential criminal?

  4. I’m sure that, today, our teenage mailbox baseball antics (oooh, a few hours of community service!) would be considered pre-al-qaida behavior. Instead of dealing with the local sheriff’s office, DHS would be involved. Maybe we’d be sent to camp Delta.

  5. Bullies in school grow up to be real estate developers.

  6. If we succeed in eradicating bullies, who’ll work for the DEA?

  7. We clearly need genetically engineered babies. Look at horses and goats, they’re on their feet inside half-an-hour and pulling their weight in a week. Elephant babies are on solid food and running at a good clip within a month. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that human babies be productive citizens by the time they are a year old. It’s this idle laying about and being waited on hand-and-foot that leads to spoiled, criminal behavior. Get’em on their feet, I say.

  8. that’s the point, ms jennifer. the bullying of the bullies is a problem because it works against the social order, being random, individually oriented, and chaotic. in an aristocratic society, these traits would not have been eradicated, but redirected toward the social good. namely, crushing peasant revolts, burning witches and antisocial individuals, and torturing non-christians.

    i think it will slowly dawn on us that the dark ages, for all their faults, nurtured a social stability that we in this gezelschaft society can only look upon with envy.

  9. Uh, is biggus dickus a gaius marius parody, or gaius himself on some really weird hallucinogens? I honestly cannot tell anymore.

  10. “biggus dickus”

    (snicker snicker snicker)

  11. You think there’s something FUNNY about “biggus dickus,” Mr. Wise Guy? I have a very good friend named Biggus Dickus!

  12. (snicker snicker snicker)

  13. Hey Tim, if you’re reading, which I’m sure you are, I’ve got a great idea for increasing H&R revenue. For a low low price of $4.95 a month, your H&R experience will include a list of other names using the same IP next to each comment.

    Of course, the IP address itself will not be listed, so there’s no privacy concern. Not that that’s been a problem in the past… *cough*Unborn Angel*cough*

  14. Of course, those of us with three or more IP addresses between work and home might throw a monkey wrench into that plan. . .

  15. Research cited in the 250-page CRR states that 85 percent of juvenile delinquents in detention facilities were bullies in school

    Isn’t that like saying “85% of juvenile delinquents are juvenlie delinquents”?

  16. Jennifer’s Anonymous Sister —

    Two things:

    1. Mr Cavanaugh does not appreciate those who diss fundraising ideas, even in their embryonic state.

    2. No one is anonymous to Mr. Cavanaugh.

  17. Manservant-
    My sister wasn’t “dissing” the plan; she was troubleshooting. My sister may not be as cute as I am, but she’s every bit as smart.

  18. He has a wife, you know…

  19. Jeff, are you saying that being married precludes the need for a manservant?

  20. Twin Jennifers. Hmmmm, could be fun. But think of the mess I’d have to clean up…

  21. No, dear. That’s how the Biggus Dickus scene in Life of Brian ends.
    I should have put it in quotes.

  22. Jeff-
    The other Jennifer really let herself go. Overweight. Bad skin. Dresses like Garth Brooks. Needs to sue the stylist who did that to her hair. And would it KILL her to visit a friggin’ dentist once in awhile? I swear, the more I learn of my family tree, the fonder I am of firewood.

  23. What are you implying about Mr. Cavanaugh?

    Main Entry: man?ser?vant
    Pronunciation: ‘man-“s&r-v&nt
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural men?ser?vants /’men-“s&r-v&n(t)s/
    : a male servant

    I don’t see anything incompatible with Mr. Cavanaugh being married.

  24. Maybe it’s Mrs. Cavanaugh who hired the manservant. Is “manservant” like “cabana boy?”

  25. Manservant,

    Don’t even bother. The damage was already done when he ripped into Lindsay Lohan the other day, and not the way the rest of us want to.

  26. Is “manservant” like “cabana boy?

    It usually implies a bodyguard/paid goon (as in Moulin Rouge). Though sometimes it includes what you’re implying, too…

  27. I need a manservant. Someone to prepare a sensible breakfast, and inform me when priceless artifacts have gone on display, or when eccentric villains have escaped from incarceration.

  28. Tell me “Diapered Ruffians” wouldn’t make great henchmen.

  29. Jeff-
    Can I help pick him out?

  30. Maybe Jennifer’s twin could be your manservant…

  31. Well, Crimethink, she lacks a certain body part that makes one a man, but what the hell. I can go to a bar tonight and get as many of those body parts as I want. Except Jeff might be a little miffed.

  32. Actually, iirc, ‘intimacy’ with his manservant is what got the Marquis de Sade imprisoned for life…

  33. True, Crimethink, but I haven’t noticed a Cavanaugh equivalent of “Justine,” so I wouldn’t take the parallels too seriously.

  34. Weren’t we originally discussing some sort of ominous social issue here?

  35. I think babies with troubling behavioral traits should be pressed into a lifetime of manservitude. There’s a whole generation of Jeeveses, Alfreds and Katos yet to be tapped.

  36. That’s right, Ms. Colburn doesn’t like threadjackers. By the way, 82% of juvenile delinquents grow up to be menservants, which explains why everyone at Reason has their own.

  37. Well, technically a threadjack is one who DELIBERATELY changes the subject. This was more of a “thread-evolve.”

  38. THE EVOLUTION OF THE THREAD:
    1. The flippant comment trying to make light of a depressing situation.
    2. The posting of the relevant song lyrics.
    3. The inevitable Python reference.
    4. individualism and capitalization both suck.
    5. Jennifer makes the serious comment.
    6. Speculation on the personal lives of the Reason staff.
    7. Jennifer makes the smartass comment.
    8. Uh, what were we talking about?

  39. Which begs the question, how exactly would a seven year-old respond to learning that she has been classified as a potential criminal as a toddler and that nanny was actually a rehab counselor?

    Damnit, no it doesn’t. Begging the question is a logical fallacy in which a person presenting an argument assumes what they are trying to prove. Saying something like “Abortion is murder because it involves the unjustified killing of a human being,” is begging the question. Rant off.

  40. so, maybe some briton reasonites (reasonistas? reasonoids?) could tell us whether, as it appears from various media reports, that britain is sliding backwards into some sort of nannystate facist crapulence or if this is sort of like those local school boards that want to ban the teaching of biology cause the word “gonads” might excite foul demon lust…

  41. I’m wondering how much longer it will be before society just completely eliminates the distinction between children and adults (except for sexual matters). We’ve got kids being tried as adults for crimes committed when they were as young as eleven, and now Britain leads the way with this stupid garbage?

  42. My kid got sent home from elementary school last month because I had let her go to school with a Cure tour t-shirt on. Apparently there is some kind of rule about that, even though the shirt is pink and consists of a squiggly drawing and the words “The Cure”.
    This kind of article paired with that kind of experience definitely gives one pause.

  43. Mk-
    What was the rationale? Was the picture called “obscene,” or was it because people who listen to The Cure aren’t properly well-adjusted? (I say this as a Cure fan myself. “Fear of Ghosts” is my favorite song from them.)

  44. I used to work for a guy whose last name was “Biggus”. A short, Greek-Canadian (what a combo!) jerk. God, was that torture to take a lecture from that guy after I saw Life of Brian…

  45. Ahh…it’s so nice to have a Friday Fun Link so early.

  46. “It quoted research that found 85 per cent of juvenile criminals in young offender institutions had been bullies at school and proposed that bullies be treated as aggressors.”

    What’s really needed in schools is not better ways to ID future JDs but rather better math instruction so that people don’t grow up to fall prey to this kind of logic. The key question is, what percentage of bullies grow up to be juvenile criminals? 10, 50, 100? There’s no way to tell from the reversed statistic. After all, 100% of people with my social security number read H&R, but not everyone who reads H&R has my social security number. At least, I sure as hell hope not.

  47. By “JDs” I meant of cours juvenile delinquents and not Doctors of Jurisprudence. Though that might be equally useful.

  48. Perhaps we should dedicate more resources towards weeding out the attorneys and less towards troublemakers – perhaps we’d see an unexpected drop in bullies who can creatively talk their way out of detention?

  49. Hmm. So, if America were to follow this path, eventually only home-schoolers will be able to raise crazed, psychopathic bullies. Thus the BATF+E won’t have to worry about running out of agents immediately, but in the long term, to keep all government agencies adequately staffed, it would appear they’ll have to create an alternative school system wherein children are indoctrinated into bullyhood. Think of the children, I always say.

  50. Not David,
    I think the DEA would oppose that sort of math insturction. They need that ignorance to peddle their gateway drug b.s. 100% of murderers drink water. I say we round up the water drinkers in a stadium and bomb all the murderers away. We’ll need a bigger stadium, maybe the new one in Manhatten?

    crimethink,
    Make it free with a subscription to Reason Online and I bet subs will skyrocket.

  51. “Tell me “Diapered Ruffians” wouldn’t make great henchmen.”

    Sounds like a 60s Batman villian. Why do I have this image of a middle aged, obesse, man dressed as a toddler (played by Johnathan Winters, or Don Rickels perhaps) with midgets in diapers and bonnets as his henchmen? What should we name him? Baby Face? Man Boy?

    Be sure to tilt the camera to give the room a “crooked” look.

  52. Is “biggus dickus” just a pseudonym for gaius? If not, he does a spot-on impression.

    that’s the point, ms jennifer. the bullying of the bullies is a problem because it works against the social order, being random, individually oriented, and chaotic. in an aristocratic society, these traits would not have been eradicated, but redirected toward the social good.

  53. Jonathan Winters in diapers? Isn’t there a Mork & Mindy reference there? Didn’t he play their baby who aged backwards?

    Horrible, horrible memories of childhood sitcoms flooding back. Make them stop. I wonder what percentage of hardened criminals watched Mork & Mindy as a child.

  54. Akira,
    I was trhinking the same thing. Though I see Paul Lynde playing the arch villian. Either him or the Baby Sun from Telletubbies. That thing creeps me out.

  55. Don’t you guys get it? England has finally succumb to Scientology and L. Ron told them (through some kind of soul-body mind meld) to put me in charge of the “Pre-Crime Division!”

    Phillip K. Dick called this a long time ago. Long live Hubbard!

  56. Omigod! Like, Tom just asked me on top of the iffle tower, and like, I was all “yesyesyesyes”. And it’s all over the innernet, and stuff. People think, like, it’s all crazy that I’m marrying a fag (oops!) but, like, it’s true love, you know? And you little people are going to hear aaaaalllllll ’bout it, cause we’re like, celebrities and stuff.

    Next up: we going to, like, try to have a baby. Or maybe we’ll adopt some chineese kid. I dunno.

  57. Akira: they’d have to wear Diapers AND little domino masks, just to fit the Batman formula.
    BTW, The old cartoon Mighty Heroes had a character called Diaper Man:
    http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/m/mitehero.htm

  58. Cuckoo Man rocked!

  59. Jennifer,
    There’s really nothing unusual or meaningful in the shirt. I just thought it would look cute on my kid.
    I think the rule might be that there are no rock band t-shirts allowed period. Of course, someone had to know about the Cure before she could be pegged for it. I remember her wearing a Super Furry Animals shirt I got for her many times prior to this without incident. Noone knows them, I guess.
    Anyway, the shirt was hardly the black, gothy type thing you might associate with the Cure (And yes ‘Fear of Ghosts’ is a fave of mine as well). It was pink ffs.

  60. Mk-
    Maybe you could tell them that it was a promotional T-shirt from a pharmaceutical company.

  61. Jennifer,
    I collect swag from Pharma companies. I have an office filled with Ellovil pens and Abilify clipboards etcetera.
    My fave is my Zoloft clock. It has a great cheesy landscape in the background.

  62. MK, you MUST find a ritalin shirt and send your daughter to school in it.
    Actually, any brand name child sedative will do.
    We may have to custom-make this.

  63. Jeff,
    Yes that is a fine idea. But the Pharma companies are way ahead of you. They must have had a vision of scuffy homeless people and crackheads all over the country wandering down the street while wearing their product names emblazened across their chests. In other words, I have never seen a pharma t-shirt in MH. As you said, we would have to make our own on the sly.
    I do have shirts that my kids wear that say “After School Special” and “I Need Supervision”.

  64. Oop, I mean “kid”. I only have the one.

  65. “I’m wondering how much longer it will be before society just completely eliminates the distinction between children and adults (except for sexual matters).”

    You should add alcohol and firearms alongside “sexual matters”. One of the most unremarked changes in Western (particularly American) culture over the last 120 years has been the systematic elimination of minors’ rights, while simultaneously imposing new responsibilities (and also the progressive upward redefinition of “minor” with the brief exception of lowering the voting age to 18).

  66. Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!

    And I used to really admire England.

    All in all, it’s just another brick in Airstrip One.

  67. Surely we can’t allow our soldiers to get drunk legally!

    Dragoon!

  68. I think babies with troubling behavioral traits should be pressed into a lifetime of manservitude. There’s a whole generation of Jeeveses, Alfreds and Katos yet to be tapped.

    Alfred…or Kato. Alfred…or Kato.

    OK, here is the tyranny of choice!

  69. Akira: Be sure to tilt the camera to give the room a “crooked” look.

    Yes! I remember that distinctive trait of all the bad guys’ hideouts on Batman. This probably explains why none of them ever had a pool table.

    (Years later, I learned those camera angles were called “Chinese angles” or “Dutch angles” or the much less colorful “canted frames.”)

  70. If you really want to reduce crime in the UK, round up all the Manchester United supporters (AKA Devil worshipers) and put them into a detention camp in, say, Guernsey. You can antagonize them by pretnding to flush a Roy Keane jersey down the toilet.

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