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Forced to stay in school – a monstrous imposition

Dave Douglass | 06.11.2008 12:57 | Analysis | Education | Repression

Dave Douglass looks at plans to increase the age of compulsory education for the most recent issue of Freedom anarchist newspaper

It seems incredible but recently, a huge chunk of the adult young population
were stripped of the bulk of their civil liberties. From now on, they will be unable
to go where they want, when they want, and will be under constant constraints on movement.

They must all without exception surrender to direct physical control and restraint for a minimum of two years. This is imposed without charge, without trial, without appeal, and it seems without the slightest peep of protest.

Sixteen year olds will be banned from leaving school, banned from taking up paid work and careers, banned from deciding their own futures. It appears not to have been introduced as a bill in Parliament, wasn’t debated, avoided publicity and was tagged on the end of an existing act. Both the Tories and Libdems had promised to oppose it in the Commons because of the compulsion and enforcement being applied.

True to form, Brown just brought it in through the back door without debate or vote.
Next year the law will change again, taking away freedom of movement, and work choice from seventeen year olds too. You will be 18 before the state will allow you to decide for yourself what you do with your own life.

The fact that the state can move in and remove the civil liberties of hundreds of thousands of subjects, without crime or charge or appeal and effectively subject them to house arrest and two years of close monitored supervision seems not to have impacted one bit on civil libertarians or the masses ranks of ‘the left’.

This could well be because very few if any teenagers have any contact with the left and libertarian movement these days and the aud codgers of the movement, if they even know about it, don’t see the problem. Yet the implications are horrendous.

This is nothing short of internment, for the majority of these young adults who would otherwise have chosen to leave forced education and seek their own way in life.
It is a form of social conscription aimed at restraining a new ‘enemy within’. How will it be enforced, how will big grown-up young adults be policed and constrained in the classroom?

Soldiers, fresh from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan are to be employed as ‘class room mentors’ and ‘school assistants’ as soon as their terms of engagement are over. A special crash teacher training programme, free to ex-soldiers is to be created to ensure ex-combat soldiers will be engaged in every school as teachers. Not surprisingly such a scheme was never offered to the tens of thousands of ex coal miners or dockers, since the lessons these new teachers would come with would be of a markedly different political complexion than the former SAS man or commando.

The press and government have created a social climate in which being a teenager is of itself problematic and criminalised. Just being a teenager hanging out on your own street becomes ‘anti social’ behaviour. Natural exuberance and sexuality become causes for massive head scratching research and anti crime measures. Daily the TV will find an angle to show teenagers doing something to strike the fear of murder and mayhem in the community. Being a teenager makes you automatically guilty, of something, or potentially something.

Blair in his crazed Christian moralist madness obviously thought puberty was some sort of plot by perverts to corrupt ‘children’. So this measure locks you up and puts you under close control and restriction before you do anything. At the same time as the media creates the image of the teenage terrorist and criminal, the state is ramming down everyone’s throat the notion that the poor wee things are just ‘children’.

The press true to its political masters always now refer to teenagers, 16, 17 and 18 as children, as against young adults. Childhood is now imposed by law and punishable in the courts for transgression against this designation. Smoking of course is now raised from 16 to 18.

The right to consume alcohol ,to be together drinking alcohol, to be outside drinking alcohol, buying alcohol have all now suddenly become defacto crimes and illustrative of criminal behaviour. The supermarkets now demand you look 25 or 30 to buy it, or else produce ID. The push to raise the age to 21 is clearly on.

Actually being teenagers hanging out together without alcohol is clearly deemed a crime in many areas with cops and community officers chasing young people off their own estates and demanding they stay home.

All of this is a stalking horse for ever-increasing sexually repressive laws. Until recently the age of consent in Britain was 16, but piece by piece the Blair / Brown government has been pushing this to 18 in line with most US states, by adding more and more restrictions as to who can actually have sex at this age. At present you can marry at 16 in Britain, have a husband or wife and children and a home; how will this fit in with compulsory school attendance until 18?

The two laws are clearly incompatible.

This is all to reinforce the process to infantilise young adults. American ‘rape’ laws have been steadily introduced which changed the existing laws of ‘unlawful sexual intercourse’ to ‘rape’. Consenting underage teenagers would hitherto be denied the fact of actual consent and instead be deemed ‘raped’ regardless of facts of the relationship, or indeed the fact that their partners are usually their teenage boy/girl friends.

Things have changed right enough from when I were a lad, we’d have been rioting in the street, refusing to go , and hordes of lefties of all descriptions would be taking up our cause. Perhaps resurrecting the old US slogan “Hell No We Won’t Go!” So we’ve got the cause, got the slogan, where’s the protests? None so far, and one wonders deeply why?

From an educational point of view, there are at any one time hundreds and thousands
of teenagers forced to attend school which offers them nothing and they hate. They ‘kick off’ daily at school, attack teachers, wreck schools and make life a misery for the youngsters who actually want to be there. Both groups can’t wait for the sixteenth birthday so that the dissidents can leave, and they be allowed to work without harassment and distraction.

Those who leave can’t wait to get work, money in their pocket, enter young adulthood and be free of the constraints of parents and school authority. In days gone by masses of them would enter the industrial workforce and join unions, take an interest in the world of work, and by a diverse route often discover training, education, and political involvement.

A great many mature students would take up higher education in their late twenties, thirties and older, or would develop non-vocational education discovering that education can actually be fun and not associated with having your individuality and freedom ripped out.

The alternative is what we are now being forced to have, childhood forced down your genes until your 18, detention without appeal. It will undoubtedly lead to rebellion in the classroom and real anti-social crime as acts of defiance and frustration. The presence of on site school police forces are bound to happen along with the ex squadie hard man/women, virtual classroom bouncers and door staff. The government will continue to call this part of its ‘education’ programme when actually we will all see it is part of their obsession with social engineering and control

These measures ought to have been fought as hard as the poll tax - that it hasn’t shows just how cowed and battered people have become in Britain. Although the measures don’t apply in Scotland where you can still leave school at 16 if you wish.

The SNP are not be outdone though and just to demonstrate that they too are scared shitless of these young people they will raise the drinking age to 21. Overnight it will make hundreds of thousands of young people criminals, will re-enact all the bollocks of prohibition with raids on pubs and parties, battering people, arresting people, jailing people.

But where is the mass youth resistance? A tactical alliance of all those between 18 and 21 pledged to campaign and vote against any politician who supports this measure might change a few minds. Evidence suggests a healthy movement against the proposal and the criminalisation of teenagers is already afoot in Scotland.

Far better though simple mass and united public defiance would be the best resistance to both acts of government autocracy. Tens of thousands of teenagers refusing to go to school, demanding their freedom of choice and civil liberties could stop this process in its tracks.

More generally, teenagers ought to be fighting for rights as young workers and young adults with full social and political rights at 16 and the repeal of all anti youth legislation. The right to leave school as part of paid apprenticeships and work training coupled with day release fused with standard education programmes at 14.

Dave Douglass

Dave Douglass
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Hide the following 6 comments

Fundamentally incorrect

06.11.2008 14:16

"Sixteen year olds will be banned from leaving school, banned from taking up paid work and careers, banned from deciding their own futures."

Err... no. The requirement is that 16 and 17-year-olds will have to be in education or training. They can leave school for paid work if they like without any problems.

The paid work just has to have a training aspect for at least a day a week. And if they're starting a new job - unless it's totally dead end or mindless - they are going to be getting some training, anyway.

(Actually, even some pretty mindless jobs - working for McDonald's or shelf-stacking for a major supermarket - will be OK too because they have training programmes.)

So your fundamental point is wrong.


A little disingenous

06.11.2008 16:47

You make this sound as if it's a fundamental change as opposed to an incremental one.

Do you believe the school leaving age of 16 should be reduced as it tramples on the freedoms of 14-16yr olds?

"These measures ought to have been fought as hard as the poll tax - that it hasn’t shows just how cowed and battered people have become in Britain."

Or maybe it shows that you're overeacting and this isn't as big a deal for everyone else as you think it should be.


Fundamentally CORRECT

07.11.2008 21:01

Dave may not have mentioned the "education or training" verbiage (and verbiage is all it's likely to be in the current situation) but his fundamental points about the infantilisation and criminalisation of youth and the aggressive extension of social control, are right on the button. This all helps to fuel the generation wars going on all over the place these days. It's very much in the interests of capital and the state at present to crank them up, to demonise youth and promote fear amongst older people.


Not credible

08.11.2008 16:27

This article is too obviously propagandist, and too much of a rant, to be credible. And the author has mixed too many issues to do with young people. Youth are being criminalised and demonised, true. Ever seen a newspaper article about young people in the past five years that wasn't to do with ASBOs or crime? But as for young people being made to do education or training until they're 18 - the issue isn't making it compulsory, it's whether it's any damn good and enables them to fulfil their potential, not just fit them for exploitation as wage slaves.

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10.11.2008 10:19

I don't disagree with the related point being made. I agree that that there is a disturbing tendancy to criminalise young people.

But the main point of the article - it's in the headline - is that young people are being "forced to stay in school". Which is what a lot of politicians and newspapers keep claiming. But it's rubbish.

Norville B

From the Cradle to the Grave; it's here.

19.02.2009 18:02

‘So schome is ... not school - not home - schome - the education system for the information age. Schome is going to be an education system that spans cradle to grave - genuinely life long. It is NOT going to be a virtual system - there will be physical as well as virtual spaces. This is because we need to be grounded in the sense that we need to be meeting the real needs of society and individuals.’
Carillion are involved in academy schools, as part of Partnership for Schools. They are now involved in catering. The fact that their Clinical Services Director David Highton has been involved in three scandals of no importance it seems. (One the illegal removal of adult brains at the Oxford NHS).

Carillion also run apprenticeships. Academy schools have on site training in fields which suit the sponsors. And we now have 0-19 Academies.

So the kids will learn the sponsor’s subjects, in their schools where they eat their food, consume their products, absorb their indoctrination and do apprenticeships and have careers in their companies, all happening in new buildings which apply ‘euthenics’ to the inmates, built by companies connected to Fema.