A report published this week by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary revealed something that I have been aware of for many years.
That is that many parents and carers feel that they are unable to discipline children under their control.
Some argue that a lack of discipline in society in general is a feature with children being disruptive at home because they realise that there is little that can be done to them by way of sanction
As a result of this the police are increasingly being called upon to deal with matters that in the past would have been resolved without the need for the involvement of outside agencies.
Stark examples include the police attending situations such as siblings, aged 11 and 13, arguing over who has the television remote, and pre-teenage sisters fighting because one sister had worn the other’s favourite top.
A number of theories abound as to why relatively trivial matters such as these have led to police involvement, but I feel that it is likely that those calling the police do so out of sheer frustration.
Some argue that a lack of discipline in society in general is a feature with children being disruptive at home because they realise that there is little that can be done to them by way of sanction.
I know from speaking to teachers that they feel increasingly hamstrung by the behaviour of such children at school, and the fact that they feel powerless to challenge it.
Others suggest that it is the departure from what were once seen as traditional family structures that has led to children being so difficult. Extended families, where grandparents and older family members would be involved in guiding and disciplining children, appear to be on the decline.
Some contend that the increase in divorce is a major contributory factor. The argument is that lone parents really struggle with imposing discipline.
It is further advanced that the lack of a father figure to impose authority has led to a marked increase in the number of parents who simply cannot control their children.
Whatever the reason might be, I am firmly of the view that, unless it is absolutely unavoidable, most family disputes should be handled within the family.