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Yesterday's Times (£) has an infuriating article. As part of his sentence, a young criminal was required to write a letter of apology to the family whom he had burgled. Instead, he wrote a letter of defiance. Scornful in his refusal to say "sorry", he insisted that it was his victims' fault. They had made it too easy to burgle their home.

Here's the text of the letter:

Dear Victim,
I don’t no why I am writing a letter to you! I have been forced to write this letter by ISSP. To be honest I’m not bothered or sorry about the fact that I burgled your house. Basicly it was your own fault anyways.
I’m going to run you through the dumb mistakes you made. Firstly you didn’t draw your curtains which most people now to do before they go to sleep.
Secondly your dumb you live in Stainburns a high risk burglary area and your thick enough to leave your downstairs kitchen window open. I wouldnt do that in a million years. But anyways I don’t feel sorry for you and Im not going to show any sympath or remores.

One's first reaction would be unprintable on a family web-site. Gradually, second thoughts followed. To judge by the letter, the youth is full of anger. I would assume that he had a wretched upbringing, by people who were not fit to be left in charge of a hamster.


Yet his vices do not include stupidity. The letter suggests animal intelligence. It is also illiterate; the spelling, grammar and syntax are a disgrace.

So is the failure of the education authorities. That boy should have attended school for a minimum of eleven years. During those tears, many tens of thousands would notionally have been spent on him. The outcome: an illiterate criminal. But it is no use just condemning the boy. We have to address ourselves to the systemic failures which helped to make him what he is.

The local police are using the letter in advertisements, to encourage householders to lock up properly. The rest of us should also use the letter, to remind us where the country is going wrong. So it may be that the youth's toe-rag insolence could have a useful outcome.  

17 comments for: Bruce Anderson: We have to address the systemic educational failures which create the criminal underclass

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