This article is not witty and contains no recipes: The Edlington attack

On the radio yesterday morning, I heard a hateful thing.  The newsreader was reporting on the terrible and sickening case involving the vicious attack by two young boys on two other young boys in Edlington, Doncaster.  He said that members of the public thought it was wrong for the boys to be granted anonymity and that they should be “named and shamed” for their wickedness. 

This attack was wicked indeed and the boys upon whom it was vented will carry the experience with them for the rest of their lives, and many of the details of the attack will never be made public as it was too sadistic to be deemed in the public interest.  It has been reported that the boys gave up the attack, not because of remorse or pity at the injuries they inflicted, but because their arms were tired and they were worn out with doing it.

However, there is one fundamental difference between the two pairs of boys.  The children who survived the attack came from loving families in which it is reasonable to assume that they are nurtured, protected, educated and guided in a way which any child in this country has a right to expect.  They will be given help to overcome the physical and psychological damage resulting from their hideous ordeal and, in time, they stand every chance of playing valuable roles in society as they grow up.  I pray that they will mend.

The two little boys who perpetrated this attack were born into an environment of violence, hatred, horror, neglect, abuse, drugs, alcohol and misery.  They were beaten by their parents and witnessed their father beating their mother.  They watched disgusting, pornographic horror films from toddlerhood, including one in which people were forced to mutilate themselves or face death at the hands of their tormentors.  Their mother used to lace their tea with cannabis so that she could have ‘a quiet night’. 

Their home life was described by psychologists are ‘chaotic’.  That’s not chaotic.  Chaotic is when everyone’s late and getting cross.  Chaotic is when the grown-ups are getting stressed because they haven’t done the washing or made the lunch-boxes.  Chaotic is untidy bedrooms and too many after school clubs.  Their home life was terrifying. Sadistic. Hateful. Horrific.  There was no-one to love, nurture, protect, educate or guide them.  Their parents probably came from the same sort of background; abusers have nearly always been abused.

The boys were in foster care (only a mile from their home) at the time the attacks took place and during this time they had been reported to the police on several occasions for threatening children.  Social services had visited many times, as they had been on the At Risk register virtually since birth, and these children were undoubtedly failed by everyone with whom they came into contact. 

But the sad fact is, that Social Services are absolutely overwhelmed with child protection problems and, in Doncaster, they admitted that cases are being overlooked because of the workload.  Social workers also face the same problem as the police in that there are some houses, some streets, some estates where they are afraid to go.

I feel guilty if I feed my children chips too often, or fail to read them a bedtime story or help them with their homework.  I won’t let them watch Tracy Beaker because I feel that the messages in it are chaotic and negative.  I worry that sometimes I raise my voice too much or that I don’t set them a good enough example of what sort of men they will need to be.  I worry that I don’t play with them enough.  And sometimes I put my arms round them and give thanks that we have so much, that we are surrounded by people who love, nurture, protect, educate and guide us.  If  I, or their father, should ever not be there, there is a long line of people who would step up to the mark. 

No-one stepped up to the mark for those boys and now it’s too late.  Their lives were blighted the moment they were born and it is highly unlikely that they can ever be ‘normalised’ sufficiently to be returned to society.  In the past, children were hanged for stealing bread and the ‘namers and shamer’s brigade are exhibiting that same vengeful and neglectful mentality.  Every time a child dies of, or is subjected to, neglect or cruelty, we are the ones who are shamed. And that is all I have to say.

Events described in this article have been gleaned from radio, television and newspaper articles.


Filed under Children, Family and Friends

12 responses to “This article is not witty and contains no recipes: The Edlington attack

  1. Morag

    Like you, I have been horrified by the reporting of this attack, and by what it says about us as a society that such children survive in such a violent environment. What horrifies me most of all is the idea that Doncaster social services have so many cases of abuse and parental failure that they cannot cope, and that this may not even be the worst.

    These children had a long history of violence and agency intervention, and yet still they got to the position they were in.

    I live in middle class suburbia, and such an environment can hardly be envisaged. I am glad to say my children do not come into contact with it at all, but that is not the answer. Because there are many many people who face this every day of their lives, and the fat cats who make all the rules really have no idea at all.

    If you wish to protest to your MP about this or any other matter, can I recommend All you need to know is your postcode, and the site will direct you to your own appointed person (not just MPs).

  2. backwatersman

    I do very much agree with you about this. Thanks for writing it.

  3. Thankyou, this needed saying.

  4. Thank god – I was beginning to think I was the only person who felt like this. Astonishingly, not just the Daily Mail coterie have been expressing “string ’em up” sentiments, and even a children’s charity (FFS) got in on the act.

    I’d like to see the parents brought to account for this, and I’d like the reports from Doncaster to be made public, even if they redact the names.

    All very depressing.

    • wartimehousewife

      Welcome Ramtops! Thanks for your comment; I suspect there are a lot more of us than you think. This is why it’s so important to challenge people when they utter this vengeful, careless nonsense. All children are precious and all should be protected.

      On a lighter note, I really like your site ‘Reactive Cooking’ and I’ve added it to my Links. This is a really good example of what The Wartime Housewife is protagonising, ie learning what foods go together, not wasting and experimenting with what you have. Well done! I hope we hear from you again.

  5. Connie T

    No of course these children shouldn’t be named and shamed. However, I don’t think this for the reasons you may think. Firstly, what’s the point of naming them when once they have served whatever inappropriate sentence they are given, they will be given new identities? Secondly, making their names known is hardly going to shame them, is it? They didn’t stop their brutality because they suddenly had an epiphany and thought “ooh, perhaps we shouldn’t be doing this”. No, their arms were hurting. Poor loves, perhaps they should have been offered a massage. And their parents certainly don’t sound like they would feel shame either.

    These children had a history of violent and sadistic behaviour and they will not change. Yes, they had an appalling upbringing and yes, maybe their parents had been abused as well. It is said that the abused frequently becomes the abuser. Therefore the probability is that these boys if, heaven forbid, they ever reproduce, will continue the pattern.

    But what is to be done? Keeping this scum in prison costs around £25k a year, paid for by decent hardworking tax payers. I believe that anyone who is conclusively proven to have carried out this sort of abuse (and there is clearly no doubt in this case) should not be allowed to spawn and perpetuate this ongoing evil. If capital punishment won’t be brought back, perhaps enforced sterilisation / castration would be the fitting punishment, as well as some unpleasant community service.

    The money saved from useless custodial sentences could be spent providing better services to prevent these appalling situations arising.

    I know there will be many people who do not agree with me, but weeping and wailing about how it wasn’t their fault doesn’t alter the fact that the two other little boys (the victims, remember them?) will probably be scarred mentally and physically for the rest of their lives. Think about them, not the evil monsters on trial.

    • wartimehousewife

      Thank you Connie – it’s always very important to have a variety of opinions of matters as complex as this one – there are some very challenging and thought-provoking ideas here. Incidentally, by “evil monsters” do you mean the children or the parents? And God forbid that we ever see the return of capital punishment, however hideous the crime.

      Comments anyone?

  6. backwatersman

    I suppose this is inevitably going to be something in the way of a reply to Connie T’s comments.

    The custodial sentences aren’t entirely useless, in that – if we think that these children are so damaged that they are likely to commit similar crimes again – keeping them locked up will prevent them doing so. The 25K is largely to pay for the wages of the prison officers who make sure they can’t escape.

    For what it’s worth I suspect that these children are young enough to come to an understanding of what they’ve done and be “reformed”, for want of a better word – if they are exposed to some more wholesome influences than they’ve met with so far. Whether they’re likely to encounter these in prison – or wherever they’re going – is more doubtful.

    And Heaven forbid we even think about re-introducing capital punishment. I have a family friend of very robust right wing views (which I don’t share) who is a judge who has always maintained that if it were brought back he would immediately resign if he were compelled to sit in murder trials. He is old enough to remember
    the days of hanging and it was a disgusting, barbaric business (and that’s not even to mention the evidentally haphazard way in which the criminal justice system works). I’m afraid the suggestion of chemical castration seems to me to fall into the same category.

    A much bigger mystery than why two brutalised children should behave like this, incidentally, – and I suppose this is on my mind because reminiscences of that time are appearing in the papers and TV in connection with Holocaust Memorial Day at the moment – is how so many people – many of them “decent hardworking taxpayers” – connived at, or condoned or even participated in much worse atrocities.

  7. wartimehousewife

    Well said Backwatersman

  8. Morag

    I agree that capital punishment is not the answer. It has been demonstrated time and time again that it is not a deterrent. And if it is not that, all it is is a reflection of giving in to the baying of the masses.

    I wish I shared the optimistic view that these children can be taught to understand how wrong their behaviour has been, and that they can be made useful and productive members of society. I fear this is not the case, however.

    Prison itself is a great place to learn how to be an effective criminal, so I’m not really in favour of that either, in this case. My father used to work in a Borstal, where some attempt at learning and normality at least were made. And they were purely for children. But of course some Government decided they weren’t a good idea.

    I do however support chemical castration – such people must never be allowed to breed. It may be a totalitarian response, and I’m sure the do-gooders wouldn’t like it, but it is at least an attempt to stop the cycle. I’d also do electronic tagging for a number of years, to reduce their criminal opportunities.

    Sorry if I sound like a frothing Daily Mail reader, but clearly lessons are not being learned. And I think the human rights of society take precedence over the human rights of criminals.

  9. Pingback: Exterminate all the brutes? « Go litel blog, go …

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