The Observer | Review | Observer review: Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew by Bernard Hare

According to this book, there is an underclass of feral children in Britain. I trained as a teacher in Leeds nearly thirty years ago, and in the tough secondary modern where I did my teaching practice, I could have taught the fathers of these kids. The difference then was that there was no drug problem, beyond the odd bottle of cheap cider shared behind the bike sheds. Some of the kids were in trouble with the police because of shop lifting, there were occasional fights, and, memorably, the bus company refused to lay on buses after some boys set fire to a bus while they were still on it. Even so, I was never threatened by a pupil, and most days passed without any major incident. Most of the boys (it was an all boys school) had relatively stable family backgrounds, and unemployment was low. They could expect to land a factory job on leaving school. True, things were getting bad in the traditional heavy industries, but Thatcherism was still a few years off. I don’t look back on it with rose coloured spectacles – it could be grim at times – the boys thought Kes was great, because it was so like their own lives – but nothing like the complete breakdown of structure indicated by this book and other sources such as Theodore Dalrymple.

The comparison in the review to the City of God children is a chilling one, but one that seems justified. In the midst of our affluence, we are harbouring a third-world street culture where violence, crime and death are the currency of everyday life.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Feral Children again by Dr Rob Spence is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.