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Spare the rod, spoil the child

Good friends and family are the cornerstones of a good upbringing. To be socialised, to fit in, you need checks and balances from the people around you, to award praise when deserved and blame where required, to guide and caution and warn and set an example and all the other things that help to mould people into socialised adults. Every family and social group comprises different people come together with shared social values and mores to unite them. Not to say that we are all the same, everyone is a unique individual, but all within the broader spectrum of similarities on which we can all agree. These differences and standpoints, shared ideals and ways to define ourselves, bringing us together or setting us apart, are the cornerstones of personal development with which we all navigate our journey through life and build a sense of self and social identity.

Politics is where these opinions often clash as we all debate the differing standpoints. However we can all still agree on the basics, on the ‘biggies’ as it were; and it is for family and friends to reinforce the understanding of these. Take cleanliness for instance; few would debate that we ought to be clean and presentable and odourless when socialising with others, it’s hardly a political standpoint, and something we naturally maintain and ensure others do. It’s important to maintain and assert our values on the broader generalities that tie us together as a society, as they’re a matter of human civilisation rather than any individual difference of opinion. When it comes to such universal principles, as I said at the outset, friends and family are instrumental in helping any family member or friend to maintain a standard of behaviour in line with those of the group.

Groups can and do differ, but within groups they maintain acceptable self-defining behaviour, and expect others in the group to. The law provides broad guidelines on everything from raising children to how to behave in public. In most cases however it’s a matter of common sense, and groups that are excessively different to the prescribed norms receive labels such as gangs, cults, sects, or criminals, and various other terms, to substantively differentiate them from the rest of society, who despite their differences and variations still operate within the broader social norms that tie us together as a people.

In short, it is for family and friends to keep is in line, to remind us to put our seatbelts on, to pick up the dog poop, not to cut in line, not to swear in public, and all the other points of etiquette that cumulatively form the social rules we follow to belong and remain part of our social group and wider society. It is important to learn these, and learn them in good time, or face the risk of becoming antisocial adults.

Many people don’t see the point in some rules, and not all points of etiquette are enforced by everyone, but it is important to be aware regarding the major things, as society often isn’t as forgiving as family and friends are. Spare the rod and spoil the child, so they say; people who don’t receive proper guidance are likely to face resistance from wider society later on, that they would otherwise have smoothly avoided had they only been raised properly to begin with, in a safe, forgiving low stakes environment. In this vein a father might allow his son to spend the night in a cell after he failed a breathalyser for drink driving, rather than bail him out (albeit perhaps with a quiet word to the staff sergeant to look out for him), in order to teach him that actions have consequences and he shouldn’t drink and drive. Tough love it may be, but a child that didn’t learn the lesson and merely received a lukewarm reprimand from his parents might go on to drink and drive again, and to have a car accident while so doing, leading to injury, maiming and possibly death. Lessons may be difficult to learn in the short term, but they serve to avoid worse lessons in future when people who didn’t learn initially repeat the same mistakes in high stakes situations and end up losing more in the long run, sometimes permanently.

The people who are abusing me remain unchecked; there are no controls on anything they do, and they have been led to believe that their relatives and immediate social group will get them out of anything they might get into trouble for. One of them once barked at me ‘you’re trying too hard to be nice but we don’t need to be!’ along with frequent talk such as ‘we rule’ and suchlike. When I hear people speak in this manner I think of indulgent parents and a weak family structure that either doesn’t enforce the rules and doesn’t admonish troublemakers within their group, or are themselves poor role models for the group they’re in, thus misleading impressionable others in the group into thinking that antisocial behaviour is acceptable. For instance a father who would start a fight with a teacher who criticised his son’s work ethic on parents’ day, snarling something along the lines of ‘why are you saying such things about my boy, you don’t know anything about him, he’s a good lad you stuck up muppet’ wouldn’t be setting a very good example regarding respect for teachers, elders or authority, and the child might then grow up to display a similar lack of respect, which could deteriorate into delinquency if left uncorrected.

The abusers are clearly in an environment where few social controls are placed on them, their immensely antisocial behaviour is indulgently tolerated by others, and they have been led to believe they can do no wrong and their acceptance in the group isn’t jeopardised by their behaviour. As a result of this their behaviour towards the public or others with higher standards becomes one of disdain, disregard and aggression, as they never learned that they need to remain of a certain standard to be accepted by others and fit in with wider society.

Sadly, the lesson not having been learned early on, the abusers have been subjecting me to sickening abuse for seven years now. Considering that the only thing standing between them and a lengthy spell in prison for a host of serious crimes against me is the fact that they’re doing it remotely and as yet haven’t been identified physically (a flimsy and temporary respite that will dissipate the moment anyone gets any evidence on them), it would have been better for them if they had learned the lessons of integration and socialisation when they first had the opportunity. Their parents and immediate social group didn’t do them any favours in giving them free reign to do as they pleased with no guidance or limitations placed on their behaviour, as the resulting crimes are severe and irreversible, which wouldn’t be the case had they learned and absorbed these lessons properly in a safe and forgiving environment to begin with.

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