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our 16 yr old Ds's - target on the streets?

(22 Posts)
zamantha Tue 30-Oct-12 09:45:15

Our DS was mugged last night with 8 of his friends on a station platform at 5.30pm. He has only just started to be out on occasion in the dark.

We asked the police officer what can he do to keep safe? He said:
stay in groups. Keep 2 phones- one cheap to give away. Walk away as soon as possible. Call police. He will be a target as he is 16.

One 18 yr old mugger threatening violence - eight boys of 16 the victims - apparently not uncommon.

How do we keep our boys safe as well as developing their experience of the world?

WofflingOn Tue 30-Oct-12 10:04:12

Teach them to read situations before they become a problem and to stay alert.
Don't wear headphones, you can't hear trouble coming.
Stick to busy places if you can, or walk with long strides rather than running.
Horrible that they weren't safe even in a group, that puts most muggers off round here, so I'm assuming you live in a city, or in a high crime area with confident and cocky criminals.

WofflingOn Tue 30-Oct-12 10:05:42

Oh, and try to encourage him to keep going out and about and to regard it as a rite of passage, a shitty one. Worse if he's too scared to develop independence as a consequence.

zamantha Tue 30-Oct-12 10:47:15

we live in a good residential area - DS said, not the sort of area I thought this would happen

WofflingOn Tue 30-Oct-12 10:50:02

It's horrible to have to contemplate how to keep them safe, I have a 21 year old DD and a 17 year old DS. So far, no major incidents for either of them.
Has it happened before in your area, or is it likely that it was a one-off non-local?

zamantha Tue 30-Oct-12 10:56:51

Haven't heard of it before but mugger got on a train elsewhere - suppose it is usual they move about on public transport

WofflingOn Tue 30-Oct-12 11:09:25

We have occasional, fast, very target-specific muggings here. London commuters off the train with their laptops and phones. The muggers use the trains to get away, despite good CCTV.

flow4 Tue 30-Oct-12 11:33:37

I think they are especially vulnerable at this sort of age - say 14-18, when they're not children any more but haven't developed their full adult size and muscles.

But IME they are most at risk from other teenage boys who vaguely know them, not strangers. My DS (17) has been mugged once (when he was 14) but attacked or beaten up 3 or 4 times. All his friends have been too. Generally the attacker is someone they could name, but won't, because there are complex social relations involved (e.g. the victim goes to school with the attackers brother or cousin) and 'grassing' is taboo. Often but not always (as far as I can tell) there are girls or small amounts of owed money involved...

We're in a semi-rural area where there are few 'strangers' anyway, and 95% of the teenagers go (or went) to the same school. I would've thought it would make kids safer, but it doesn't seem to sad

zamantha Tue 30-Oct-12 12:00:32

The violence is scary -I'm sorry your DS has been beaten up as you say. I just hope my DS can stay clear of this sort of trouble.

I remember school lower down was a bit rough - despite a well regarded highly successful comp in good area. Some boys clearly are violent and I want my DS to be able to stay well clear. We'll have to see if he manages this.

flow4 Tue 30-Oct-12 12:33:11

The violence is very scary. It isn't/wasn't part of my own experience at all. When DS1 was growing up, I always told him and showed him that I expected him to deal with conflict without physical violence, and he was in trouble with me if he ever got involved with fighting etc. But it is very much part of the 'male culture' here. He tells me now that I just "don't understand" (he's right) and "this is just how boys and men are". Well, not the ones I am friends with, but clearly the ones he knows. sad

The first couple of times he was beaten up, I called the police, against his wishes. But they took no action and he had to deal with consequences. More recently, I have done what he has wanted, which means I have not called them. Sometimes I really do feel that his world is not the same as mine.

zamantha Tue 30-Oct-12 12:44:09

I don't like to hear about boys being beaten up - do you mean really rough violence or a scuffle? What age is your Ds and when does this stop?

Interesting, two posters imply it is people they know - luckily, my Ds does not mix with rough boys - it was harder when he was younger -12,13 14-15 as there was always a threat of violence form an all boys school culture - but being beaten up seems too strong

Are there parents who have not come across this with boys? Do you think on the streets they are more vulnerable from strangers then us?. A very well-to distant family member reported her nicely spoken son was mugged 3 times in C. London on buses between 16-19. Are gentle boys/ noticeably prosperous boys noticed and targeted?

Police officer said this morning young boys are targeted.

WofflingOn Tue 30-Oct-12 12:48:11

DS looks very scary, is a fast and focused walker and he's big too. He's never started a fight, but has finished several in his school career. Never been tackled on the streets though.
DD walks a lot, often until 10pm. Never had a problem, either alone or with friends.
Both are very alert about spotting and avoiding potential problems.

SecretSquirrels Tue 30-Oct-12 13:43:43

This is a big fear for parents of teenage boys when they start to go out alone. The fears are there for girls as well but are different.
I have DS16 and DS14 and we live in a very rural area but of course they are old enough now to go into town to shop or go to the pictures. DS1 has also been on the train to the nearest city [fearful over protective mother emoticon].
I tell him all the above and tell him to stick with his friends, but unless I can talk to them as well I can't make sure the message is home. He went to a party recently and left, alone, at midnight to walk back to another friend's. He doesn't see the danger in that.
OP it's not a question of being friends with the bad guys but that you vaguely know who they are as they go to the same college or they have a brother at your school.

flow4 Tue 30-Oct-12 13:52:25

I have remembered more... I do not mean 'scuffles'; I mean incidents where the violence was bad enough that I wanted to involve the police (but didn't, after the first one - not two, as I said above - I remember he persuaded me not to in the end). And I am not including 'fights' - my DS has also been in several of those, though has also never started them. These were all occasions where the attacker was much bigger, and the violence seemed unjustified or totally disproportionate:

1st time: punched in eye and knocked unconscious when he was 13, by a boy 3 years older and very very much bigger, because he was rude and cheeky as they got off the school bus.

2nd time: punched in face and kicked on the ground when he was 14, by a boy 2 years older, also apparently for cheekiness.

3rd time: punched in eye and knocked unconscious when he was 14/15, at school, by a boy in the same year who the school told me 'had serious problems at home', for no apparent reason.

4th time: punched in face, kicked to the ground, kicked in face when he was 16, by a boy who was a friend at the time (but then wasn't, I'm glad to say) in an argument about money (and probably weed).

5th time: beaten up very badly this summer, and kicked repeatedly in the ribs and head, by a 20 year-old, because he had stolen a friend's phone when he was drunk. (He was very clear he 'deserved' this beating, but I don't live in a world where people ever 'deserve' being kicked in the head sad . He was also arrested and warned for the theft, which I say he did deserve.)

The first three incidents were definitely shaped by a culture of violence and bullying at the local school, which was not tackled by the head teacher at the time. My DS was hurt in a minor way most days (and many other boys were too I imagine, because it was not particularly targeted). It was quite brutalising. There is a new head who has stopped this kind of behaviour entirely, so DS2 has not experienced it at all, but for older local boys it seems quite ingrained. DS1 thinks that a much higher level of violence than I am used to is quite normal sad It horrifies me, and I don't feel I deal with it well.

zamantha Tue 30-Oct-12 16:16:55

flow 4 I am horrified by what you tell me. It appears tolerated violence breeds violence. I would be scared out of my life if my son was knocked unconscious and I would definately want the police involved.
My son has only just started being out by himself at night where we don't collect him and this crime against him has not made us feel great about it - want to pick him up.

However within reason I will encourage it and suppport him learning about the world

BackforGood Tue 30-Oct-12 16:36:37

Well, to answer your question at 12:44. I have a ds who is 16, and he's never been beaten up nor mugged. We live in a City and he walks home at night sometimes, on his own from friends houses. Nor is he big (I mean, he's bigger than me, but has always been one of the littlest of his peers, so it's not that his size would intimidate anyone). Nor have friends tha I'm aware of - I mean, I'm not saying I would know about anyone in the school, but he'd have mentioned it if it were lads from amongs his circle.
He's had one incident where his mates were chased by a gang, and one incident where he and his friend were waiting at 2 sep bus stops a couple of 100 yards apart, and 3 lads tried to mug his friend (but didn't get anything). He's been stopped by the police a couple of times, walking home with friends, but tends to consider that a good thing that they are 'about' and checking why young lads are out and about.

I'm sorry to hear about your son OP, and the others who have had difficult times, but I don't want people to think this happens all the time, or to all lads.

brighterfuture Tue 30-Oct-12 17:00:23

My Ds at 15 was badly beaten up by 6 boys at once. He knew most of them by sight and some by name. They had balaclavas on and gloves and were prepared. They were atually wanting to attack the friend of ds but as he hadn't turned up they decided to pick on ds, so they led him in a friendly way to a dark place where 3 of them laid into him and the rest watched.
Broken nose, split lip. cracked teeth , black eye , massive bruise on head where he'd been booted whilst on the ground, boot marks all over. We did involve the police.
Its been to court where they all admitted that it was pre meditated , that they had no reason for choosing ds other than that they were drunk and bored !. We are still waiting 2 years later as the sentencing got referred to a higher court. No sense of justice at all.
We told ds who wanted to go and kill them all to trust in the law and non violence. He gets to see the same kids 2 years later having had no consequences at all for their behaviour.
Tell your ds's that if someone is going to pick a fight with them to try to make sure it happens in a well lit place where they can shout for help. To trust their instincts if they feel uneasy.

zamantha Tue 30-Oct-12 20:22:20

Dear BFG, thank you for your post. I'm sure my story encourages the horrors of the world to be poured out and of course, many youths have little to complain about.

Luckily, we had prepared our Ds for the likelihood of a robbery and he gave up his possessions quickly which meant the criminal went away. DS feels a terrible loss of pride though.

I just want to be prepared - it does seem out on the streets, youngsters do need to be alert. Even you BFG point to near misses.

However, who else has found their Ds's sailing through going out by themselves as teens? It would be good to hear the moderate stories

Also, thank you to the posters who share their terrible stories - I feel for you awfully. Some boys are just not given enough guidance, outlets and exercise which blows over into violence I think. Schools should be offering boys way more sport as part of their curriculum! Aggression needs to be channelled.

Thankfully, apart from hurt pride and a little loss of pocket - new phone Today - my son can learn from his brush with criminality without having suffered too much damage.

flow4 Tue 30-Oct-12 21:54:24

I honestly don't think it's a Big Bad World Out There. As I said up stream, I think 'stranger danger' is much exaggerated, and the likelihood that our sons will be attacked by a random stranger is very small. Boys are more likely to be attacked by older/bigger boys they sort-of know.

IMO it's something we shy away from acknowledging (like domestic violence, or like children being much more likely to be abused by a family member than a stranger) - because it's pretty horrible to think we're at risk from people we know. Perhaps the best thing we can teach our sons is "trust your instincts, and steer clear of lads you think are bad news"...

The irony of this is that I chose to live in a semi-rural area and bring my children up here partly because I thought it would be safer. But the reality is that when there are fewer teenagers in total, it's much harder to choose your friends and acquaintances exactly as you please: you are likely to have to spend time with people you don't much like or trust, because you go to the same school and catch the same bus and want to kick a football around in the same park...

Maybe if you're a little fish in a bigger pond, it's easier to avoid the sharks? confused

BackforGood Tue 30-Oct-12 22:45:23

I don't know flow4 - it might well be. That's an interesting idea. Like you, I'd have thought the cities to be potentially more dangerous than the countryside, but that's a good point about the bigger pond.

Don't get me wrong - a boy was stabbed (and died a few days later) a couple of miles from here just a couple of months ago. My ds didn't know him personally, but knows quite a few people who did. A few days later word spread around a fair that a lot of the youngsters go to near here there was going to be some kind of gang revenge / fight about it. At that point, the local youngsters get to choose - they go to it and get involved, or they get out of there before anything kicks off (or don't go in the first place).
Generally speaking - and it's apparent there are some exceptions, but, as a generalisation, statistics for youngsters getting stabbed are hugely distorted by gang culture. It's a rare occurance that it happens as part of a random mugging. So I'd certainly go with telling your sons to trust their instincts, and stay away from where trouble is expected. I'd also encourage all youngsters to get, and stay involved in whatever hobby they enjoy, so they don't spend night after night hanging around on street corners just bored, and waiting for "something to kick off".
Obviously this doesn't cover the muggings and the awful attack / beating people have talked about above, but the detail behind the headlines that frighten people is rarely made public. Don't get me wrong, everyone should be able to hang about on whatever street corner they want, with whomsoever they want, as often as they want, but common sense and experience tell me that's not the best way to stay safe.
Sorry, blush rambling a bit now.

zamantha Wed 31-Oct-12 09:01:37

All for organised activities. My Ds was coming home from a sports club with large group of friends.

Being actively involved surely stops random violence. Not sure what we can do about muggers!hmm

Theas18 Thu 01-Nov-12 22:41:21

Back for good -- I think you may be local to me? Ds is 16 and a lad he knew vaguely at primary was stabbed and died 3-4 days later in hospital. DS was a bit shaken, though it was in a "rougher" area- poor lad was chased down the street by a gang I think.

Ds is tall and sticks out a bit ( less mow his mates have grown as well lol). He's been getting around the city on foot/ public transport since age 11 and has had 2 incidents - firstly he tried to stop some lads tormenting some girls at the bus stop and got punched several times for his chivalry ( its was partly and inter school thing I think). He saw the girls home and called me to say why he'd be late - which was sweet.

Last year he was grabbed and strangled on a bus whilst minding his own business at 6.30pm - a chap pulled th assailant off .police involved but no CCTV. So nothing happened (ggrr!)

Ds and I have been travelling by train into town since he was 9 so we had many sessions chatting about risky places/ people/ reading situations ad reacting to them etc

If your ds is loosing confidence maybe travel together a bit and chat through things again ( eg, I wouldn't stand that end of the platform, I know the train will be emptier but you've boxed yourself into a dead end, not the empty carriage, move along the train, don't like the look of someone... You can get off the bus and get the next- or dodge back on iif they follow etc etc). And the ultimate message of pull the comms cord or dial 999 if you need to- I WILL pay the fine- cos really I want it to be a false alarm!

He's only got a cheap p&g phone and a bus pass, so a mugger would be out if luck..

Both my girls use public transport a lot ( eldest at uni) and they've had no troubles yet ....

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