Spare the rod & spoil the child? So far this year, 22 teenagers, most of them of African descent, have been stabbed to death in London. So why are black teenagers killing fellow black teenagers? Are they a law unto themselves? Does the fear of African parents in the UK disciplining their children have anything to do with it? Kwaku went to find out.

Position:Black Britain

The growing number of murders of young people by their peers is blighting life in London. Last year, the city recorded its highest number of teenage murders: 27. This year, that record is set to be overtaken-as at 20 July, the number stood at 22, and the majority of these homicides are as a result of knife crime. No wonder some pundits are now talking of youth crime in terms of a crisis and epidemic, whilst others refer to the perpetrators and marauding gang members as feral children. The sad fact is that the majority of the perpetrators and victims are of African descent.


The reasons given for these murders are many and complex. Socio-economic factors such as unemployment, poverty, rundown estates, school exclusions, single-parenthood, and the absence of a father or male figure, have been outlined as contributory factors.

Perhaps part of the problem may be that some African parents seem to have either abandoned the positive values and traditions from "back home", or have a lack of confidence which prevents them from adhering to those values. This has led to their imbibing negative Western values-the "this is how things are done in Britain" syndrome-as their yardstick.

There are in fact some African homes in the UK and elsewhere in the West, where parents are unable to give guidance and the children rule. The parents dare not even tell the children to put the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, let alone ask them to wash dishes or sweep their rooms. This would not be tolerated back home in Africa.

Some anecdotes and adages will better illustrate the point here: Two Ghanaian women and a young girl were sitting in a bus. When one of the women who had recently arrived from Ghana noticed an old lady standing, she gestured to the young girl to give up her seat for the old lady. But her colleague chided her saying: "This is London, children don't have to give up their seats."


This was an example of picking up bad behaviour in a city that is so devoid of good manners and charity, that there are signs posted around certain seats on buses requesting passengers to give them up for the elderly and those less able to stand. I don't think such signs are necessary in Africa, where young people generally and instinctively have respect for the elderly.

Another example: I once saw a boy in London shoving his way past a queue as a bus was loading. It was so bad, I said to him, as he made his way past me: "Young man, you don't have to push." His mother, a woman in her early 30s, instead of telling her son to behave, had a go at me for daring to correct her son.

Worse was to come, as we got into the bus. The mother kept on insulting me, and her punchline was: "Do you think you're in Africa?" Meaning in Africa, you...

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