We Don’t Need to Hug Them: The ASBO Culture

Don’t bother going out and hugging a hoodie because things have moved on – Princes William and Harry wear hoodies. Part of the problem is people who are out of touch with current culture are trying to solve problems they have no understanding of.

If you want to learn more about the ASBO-culture take a day off from work and watch a morning of daytime telly. You’ll see them in all their glory parading across our screens. “My Child Won’t Listen To Me and I Don’t Know What to Do” – will be a story about a 32-year-old woman with a 16-year-old daughter who has 2 children by two different fathers. The mother will be tearing her hair extensions out over what to do while explaining that she did the best she could. Yes she used to be on the drink but she hasn’t had a drink in 6 hours now but yet Tiffany still is leaving her with little Shahbootie and Kylie while she goes out clubbing. “My Son Is A Tearaway and My New Boyfriend Says I Have to Choose” will be about a 14 year old with an ASBO, with a drink problem, a substance abuse problem of one sort or another and a mother who spends her money ‘from the Social’ on supporting them.

So what happens when the likes of you and I see these stories? Well it depends on what kind of mood we’re in that day. We might laugh. We might be horrified. We will definitely tut-tut and say “Thank Heavens we’re not like Those People”. And that used to work. Say what you want about the class system at least it protected you from people you didn’t want to be around. If you were working class and you didn’t like toffs, no worries, you wouldn’t come across one. If you were Lord and Lady Flibberty-Gibbett no worries your path would not be crossed by people who were ‘not our sort’. But nowadays in this supposed meritocracy that we live in Tim Whiffington-Smythe can be seen outside Tesco selling The Big Issue and Kevin is just as likely to be seen at Ascot on a corporate away day.

I’m not going to bore you with “when I was a child we made do with a piece of string and a rock as toys” because that’s not true – I made do with a book. I’m not going to tell you that “we didn’t sit around in front of the telly all day like you lot” because I grew up in a country that only had television two hours a day. Initially there were only about 20 televisions in the entire country and my family had one but there is only so much trouble “Tom Jones” and “Bonanza” was going to get you into. And nope I didn’t walk 15 miles to school (frankly didn’t have to walk to school at all). But what I did have to do was have respect. Respect for myself, my family, my school, the society I lived in – you name it and I was taught to have respect for it, and having respect was not optional.

When was the last time you saw a young person getting up to give someone a seat on the bus? Or saw someone step aside and let a stranger through. Count how many times you’ve seen dozens of people walk by and watch a young mother haul a buggy up a flight of stairs on her own. Or an older person struggling with a heavy load. Never mind pregnant women on an overcrowded train. Exactly. How many fingers do you have left over? 8 or 9?

But let’s be totally honest with ourselves – and here is part of the key to this whole ASBO story. When was the last time you saw an adult do any of the above things? Exactly. These young people that we are having these difficulties with are learning this behaviour somewhere? We can blame it on the media, we can blame on a lot of things but let’s face it the rot starts at home.

As a society we used to toe the line because we didn’t wish to bring shame upon ourselves or anyone else who knew or was connected with us. Then we became wardens of the nanny state, left religion and social standards behind – everything was “cool” and now we’re sweeping up the detritus.

So now we should go out and ‘Hug a Hoodie’ – no, I think not. First we need to understand the problem. My son goes to a £12,000 a year school which is necessary because I lock my car door when I drive by the local school and figured if I’m afraid to drive by there why would I send my most prized posession through those portals. A few weeks ago his very swell school had mufti day. These boys are all academic over-achievers with everything to look forward to and I’ve never seen so many hoodies in one place since the last time I watched The Bill.

It’s not about us hugging a hoodie it’s about showing the shiftless, aimless, lacking-in-respect-for-all amongst us how to hug themselves. Now all we need to do is figure out (as a society not as a government) how to go about doing that. Let’s all wish ourselves luck – we’re sure going to need it.


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