Sunday, December 10, 2006

Kids Today Eh?

A few weeks ago I spent the morning going round a Young Offender Institution to bring myself up to date with current practice in managing what are now called trainees. Like most middle-aged people I occasionally allow myself a gentle shake of the head at the fads and attitudes of teenageus horribilis but I learned a new one at the YOI. As in most penal establishments discipline is based on a stick-and-carrot system of earning and losing privileges. If a boy is demoted to the lowest (bronze) level, he will lose his television and his right to association, so he will be left in his cell while his mates are playing table football or whatever. But that isn't the worst of it. Gold and silver boys may wear their own trainers. Bronze boys have to wear official issue. That is often the point at which they break down and cry, because your whole social status is heavily influenced by your footwear. Amazing.

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