The Magistrate's Blog (2005-2012)

This blog has migrated to www.magistratesblog.blogspot.co.uk This blog is anonymous, and Bystander's views are his and his alone. Where his views differ from the letter of the law, he will enforce the letter of the law because that is what he has sworn to do. If you think that you can identify a particular case from one of the posts you are wrong. Enough facts are changed to preserve the truth of the tale but to disguise its exact source.

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Location: Near London, United Kingdom

The blog is written by a retired JP, with over 30 years' experience on the Bench.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

How Did We Come To This?

Two different but equally horrible cases have rather depressed me in recent days. The first was the sadistic torture and, by some accounts, attempted murder carried out by two small boys on two other small boys, and the second was the appalling bullying and torment suffered by the mother of a girl who was a bit 'different'. In her despair the mother killed herself and her daughter. In both cases there are questions to ask of the authorities; the two out of control boys were clearly not handled properly by the system, and the besieged mother was badly let down by the police whose duty it was to protect her. But that isn't what struck me most forcibly; social workers and police are fallible human beings and systems will sometimes fail, even though they should not. What I find hard to come to terms with is the way in which the perpetrators, adult and youthful, have become so horribly brutalised, often in a short space of years.
As a father and grandfather I am well aware of the existence of the old Adam in every child, and I read 'Lord of the Flies' many years ago, but I know that with nurture and education and love children will grow, little by little, into civilised adults, themselves capable of giving love to and caring for others. How and why have we created a minority of children and young adults who glory in cruelty, and treat their victims with sadistic brutality?
As a magistrate I see all too many people who are sociopathic and sometimes psychopathic. I also see young men for whom violence is a recreation, the post-pub mayhem acting as an outlet for the testosterone-fuelled aggression that is of decreasing use to society. But I am also fortunate to come across many members of the large majority who have received love and have grown up to be able to give it to others. But I still can't get those two tortured little boys or that desperate mother and daughter out of my mind.