Rhys murder: blame loss of family values, says local MP

The local MP of Rhys Jones, the murdered Liverpool schoolboy, has blamed a lack of family values for the teenage gang culture that has blighted the local area.

Eleven-year-old Rhys Jones is believed to have been the innocent victim of a feud between rival teenage gangs.

He was shot dead in August last year while walking home from football training. Police have charged a 17-year-old youth with his murder.

Listen to Bob Wareing MPspeaking on BBC radio:

Local Labour MP, Bob Wareing, told the BBC: “The problems of young people starts in the home. It is parental control. You can go round the areas in Liverpool, not just in Croxteth, and you can see young people out after midnight hanging around street corners. What are their parents doing?”

His comments have been backed up by a teaching union which today published a report warning that pupils as young as nine are joining organised crime because they lack stability at home.

The report from the NASUWT union says: “Some staff were of the opinion that a proportion of young people, albeit the minority, were drawn into gangs for a sense of belonging, for acceptance and in some cases for protection – to have their backs covered.”

It continues: “The lack of positive role models, the absence of a father in the home combined with too much freedom were seen to result in groups of young people with no respect for their elders.

“A lack of a sense of identity in some cases was reported to result in young people seeking alternatives, unfortunately one that was not desirable.”

Chris Keates, the union’s general secretary, said: “Creating a safe environment for children in and out of school is vital if gang culture is to be tackled.”

A different report published this week warned that a generation of children is set for a life of crime and poverty by the time they are three years old, with family breakdown a major cause.

Earlier this month a senior judge attacked the Government for not doing enough to support families.

Mr Justice Coleridge, a Family Division judge, told a conference of family lawyers in Brighton: “What is certain is that almost all of society’s social ills can be traced directly to the collapse of the family life.”

In March teachers warned that children from unstable family backgrounds are underachieving in their education because they are too miserable to concentrate at school.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers passed a resolution at its annual conference to press the Government to recognise the damage done to children’s prospects at school by family breakdown.