Russian Children

Via Tim Worstall, I came across this article in The Guardian about how British kids nowadays hold adults in contempt.  I don’t recommend you read it as it is tripe of the highest order, particularly when the author attempts to identify the cause of the problem.  However, there is little doubt that the problem exists.  British kids know damned well that they are immune to all but the most feeble of punishments, and behave accordingly.  I remember well the gangs of kids who used to smash up the buses in Manchester knowing that even if they were challenged by an adult they could tell them to eff off with impunity, and in the unlikely event the police caught them they’d be too young to charge.

Russia seems to be slightly different, or at least in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.  Shortly after I arrived here, I went to go into the entrance to my apartment building and found half a dozen kids sat on the step blocking the way.  I expected to have to ask them at least twice to move and have a string of abuse thrown my way in return, which would almost certainly have happened in many British towns.  To my surprise, as I approached they fell over themselves to get out of the way.  Having seen this, I started to notice a pattern: Russian kids have a healthy respect for adults in the street, and far from going out of their way to abuse them, they steer well clear.  There’s a reason for this. 

If a British kid hurls abuse at a man, or refuses to get out of the way of his front door, the adult is powerless.  If he does take any action more severe than raising his voice slightly, the police will be round within half an hour to charge the adult with abuse and a quite likely a sex offence.  The British kids know this and act accordingly.  In Russia it’s a bit different.  If a Russian kid badmouths a Russian man on the street or blocks his way, he’ll get a slap round the head that he’ll not forget in a hurry.  Were a passing militiaman to notice this, he’d likely slap the kid a second time to make sure the lesson sunk in.  Russian kids know this, and act accordingly.

As Tim asks the author of the piece:

None of it, of course, could possibly be part of the children’s rights movement?

It’s a good question, with an obvious answer.  It is the children’s rights movement that have put children above the law by failing to differentiate between genuine abuse and discipline.  I do not know the figures, but I would be willing to bet that incidents of genuine child abuse in the UK have fallen over recent years and are way below that of Russia, and that is to the credit of the UK government.  But in solving one problem they have simply created another, one which is likely to have rather unpleasant consequences in years to come.  And for me in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, I am somewhat embarrased that Russian society is managing to produce children with far more personal responsibility and general manners than that of my motherland.

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11 Responses to Russian Children

  1. I will get into trouble for this, but in my view, failing to instill a sense of discipline in your child is a form of abuse with very long term and very serious consequences: it destroys or denies to them the chance to develop a sense of self-worth and the chance to make something of themselves.

    Harrumph.

  2. Tatyana says:

    When my son, then in his 4th grade, attempted to talk back, arguing that the teacher in school told the students “you deserve to be trated equally by your parents and if someone at home raises their voice at you, it constitute a verbal abuse. You’re to report such cases to me immdiately” – my then husband retorted immediately with “then you’re to live with this teacher from now on. Let her – or the Social Services – be your parent. Say good bye to your room, Nintendo, clothes, your friends at school and your mother and me. Yo’re going to be a Child of The State”.

    Can’t say it had an immediate effect, but there was no more talk of “domestic abuse”.

  3. Patrick says:

    Tim, I agree with both of the above posters. If you fail to instill a sense of discipline in your children you have failed as a parent in one regard. You have also let down your child and it a let down that they will never forgive you for later in life.

  4. Tatyana,

    An interesting riposte – good for him. I shall have to remember that for use in due course…

    More importantly, this should also have been said TO THE TEACHER.

    Patrick,

    “they will never forgive you for later in life”

    I think this is true, but only trivially so. The reason that the child will not forgive you is because the child will not understand the nature of forgiveness or possess the requisite courage and moral standing to be able to give it.

    The child is more likely to blame you, but again, largely because they will blame anyone and everyone.

    Bah humbug.

  5. secretdubai says:

    I will get into trouble for this, but in my view, failing to instill a sense of discipline in your child is a form of abuse with very long term and very serious consequences

    No trouble with me – I completely agree. I’m not sure where the entire parental discipline thing fell apart in Western society, but it being the fault of advertisers, exploiting pansy-ass leftie social worker types, seems to me as likely as anything.

    But what’s the solution? It’s not just a problem for adults. We live in a world where the “right to education” of children that harm other children still trumps the victim-children’s safety, and “excluding” (it was expulsion in my day) the violent, dangerous ones is practically impossible.

  6. secretdubai says:

    And one more point: we can’t discount the impact of the “little emperor” syndrome. Plummeting fertility rates and shrinking family sizes have led to children becoming a rare, wondrous commodity. It’s not to say children aren’t wonderful, but they are just children. They deserve our love and our care and our support: but part of that care is being an authority over them.

    Some guy on a forum once summed up his attitude to parenting which I thought was interesting (though I’m paraphrasing badly): “their needs come first, our wants come first.”

  7. Bruce says:

    Shock, horror Tim – you find something published in Grauniad to be “tripe”. Of course, if it was in the Daily Torygraph, it would be gospel ;)

  8. Tim Newman says:

    I wouldn’t know, Bruce. I haven’t read the Daily Telegraph once in over 3 years.

  9. Bruce says:

    no worries – I was just teasing anyway.

  10. Phil says:

    Have been listening to BBC news this morning reporting that 85% of a recent poll blame parents for anti-social behaviour. Now while I agree that bad parenting is certainly a contributory factor I also feel that society in general and the state in particular also need to take their turn on the whipping post.
    Children do not live in the vacuum of a home and they learn very quickly. No matter how well they are taught at home, outside influences, peer pressure and a realisation that they can pretty much get away with anything will be a strong temptation to rebel.
    As the father of two very young children (4 and 1) I am already seeing bad habit creep in from influences outside our control and would welcome any measures that society could provide to keep kids on the straight and narrow.

  11. Mark says:

    I guess comment has been disabled on your latest blog about palestine and “Israel” so lets see if you did the same here.

    Palestinians have accepted Israel’s existance, this is documented and it is stated, it is Israel that does not recognize the palestinians right for self determination, that occupies and it is the legal aggressor at this time and date. Your view of history is skewed, Israel has killed more civilians and caused more destruction than Saddam Hussein himself pond for pound. So you need to re-educate urself, or rather. The fact of the matter is Israel, an athiestic materialistic state that has no religious affilitions (zionisim) only uses its right to exisit as a cover, the founders of the state of Israel were opnely athiests and their sole motivation, is money power and material gain, they have no interest in sharing the land they stole with the indeginous inhabitants. Of course you would root loudly for Israel Mr NEWMAN, …most jews do, not quite objectivly, simply by their blind folowing to the big farce called Israel.

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