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Why are we all so angry?

PUBLISHED: 13:10 02 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:26 25 August 2010

TOP COP: DCI Lyons called for society to stand up against yobs.

TOP COP: DCI Lyons called for society to stand up against yobs.

JAKE Fahri was given a life sentence last Friday for murdering Jimmy Mizen last May. With a minority of youths so aggressive and self-important that they murder over trivial incidents, Jules Cooper asked a panel of experts whether we have become too timid a society to simply demand good behaviour...

JAKE Fahri was given a life sentence last Friday for murdering Jimmy Mizen last May.

The 19-year-old, of Milborough Crescent, Lee, was handed a minimum term of 14 years for 'going berserk' in a bakery and killing Eltham schoolboy Jimmy.

The 16-year-old victim bled to death near the Three Cooks Bakery, Lee, after Fahri threw a glass dish at his neck that shattered, severing an artery.

Fahri's disgraceful behaviour mirrored that of Karl Bishop, 19, who stabbed Harry Potter actor Rob Knox in Sidcup two weeks later after being humiliated when he lost a fight.

With a minority of youths so aggressive and self-important that they murder over trivial incidents, Jules Cooper asked a panel of experts whether we have become too timid a society to simply demand good

behaviour...

THE FATHER - BARRY MIZEN

This country stands apart from other countries. This is a country of civility and a country of fair play, of fairness, a country of safety.

We are rapidly losing that. We are becoming a country of anger and of selfishness and of fear and it doesn't have to be like this and let's together try and stop it.

Jimmy had the courage to stand up for his values and it cost him his life.

I don't think I would have that courage and I would not encourage more people to stand up for themselves like that because you don't know what is going to happen.

The Jake Fahris and Karl Bishops of this world are very much a minority.

But they feel like they have a right to let rip. Some people seem to think they can express themselves with their tempers, like it's a quality.

This violence that has been gradually cranking up over the last few years has started boiling over.

Jimmy's murder was not around the late night drinking culture. This was in a bakery on a Saturday morning. Something that we all do, and that is quite a worry.

It's spilling over into everyday life.

You go back a couple of generations and if there was anti social behaviour, adults would turn around and say 'stop it'.

If you do that now you get a mouthful of abuse and perhaps hurt physically.

It's absolutely crazy. If you see someone being robbed, do you get involved or do you walk away?

Everyone knows their rights, but nobody wants to meet their social responsibility. It's easy to become focused on yourself.

Fahri's family lived just 500 yards away from us, they use the same shops as us, both dads are self-employed and have a few kids. But we're strangers to each other.

It is terrible that you have two people growing up in the same neighbourhood, and who turn out so differently. The lads are chalk and cheese.

Some people have become too quick to take offence and too slow to open up. We need to reverse that.

THE CRIMINOLOGIST

Dr Chris Greer, works in the department of sociology at City University, London.

The interesting thing about the Mizens' response was their rejection of anger.

They are raising an issue about society as a whole, calling for a culture shift, when the usual response is to say there is something wrong with the offender and not society itself.

Every generation for the last 150 years has claimed that the generation before them had more respect and manners.

Manners matter, they're a civilising process. Yet we live in a culture that promotes individualism and 'every man for himself'.

It is to be celebrated that the blind deference to authority we saw in the 1950s and 1960s has been challenged. But it is increasingly precarious, and within that context being told what to do by a stranger can draw more of a reaction.

Whether we live in a society that is angrier than it was 20 years ago is debateable.

Today it is more difficult to build a traditional identity. It's no longer true that you have a job for life, and with more casual labour and transitory living it's harder to build an identity around your work.

Instead, you can build your relationships and friendships around night culture - around hedonism essentially - and this is encouraged by the promotion of alcohol.

It's not a question of whether young people are ruder than they used to be, but that the environment they are brought up in promotes individual autonomy and confidence in their decisions and rights.

Admittedly, there are problems with individualism. People can feel alienated from their community and feel less inclined to get to know their neighbours.

THE POLITICIAN

James Cleverly, London Youth Ambassador and London Assembly Member for Bromley and Bexley.

We are at a stage where we run the risk of a complete disengagement between the generations. One of the things that Boris Johnson said on his campaign was that we are travelling towards a position where children are suspicious of adults because they are all told about 'stranger danger' and paedophiles.

Children are extremely suspicious of adults and adults are scared of children. The normal balance is out of kilter.

We're hearing a lot of things that are self-centred today. The respect agenda, people demanding respect and people saying 'I know my rights'.

All these things were traditionally balanced with a sense of responsibility.

While a lot of people talk about their rights, few people talk about their responsibility, and some young people have really lost that sense of empathy.

I would agree we have become a more angry society than we were in the past.

But I think a lot of the problem is that a lot of young people have very low self-esteem and so what happens is they over compensate in an aggressive, defensive manner. Rather than being able to laugh something off or shrug their shoulders, with a number of youths there is an illogical desire to prove themselves.

The smallest slight can grow into something totally out of proportion, as we saw with Jake Fahri and Karl Bishop. There was just no logic. The solution, ironically, is to find a way to give young people back their self-esteem.

While the work of anti-weapon operations like Trident and Operation Blunt is important youth groups.

Adults don't feel comfortable teaching children generally due to the suspicion between generations. Yet part of the natural process is the passing of knowledge between adults and children. We need to allow our youth projects to flourish and bring back a sense of achievement.

THE POLICEMAN

DCI Cliff Lyons led the Fahri investigation and has worked on more than 30 murder cases.

I don't think society should roll over to yobbish behaviour. I don't want people to jump on it and risk themselves, but they are entitled to stand up to it.

I've worked on a number of high-profile murders and two that stick in my mind are those of Jimmy Mizen and Everen Anil. What is sad about the death of Jimmy was that he kept on running away from Fahri.

He wanted to get away but he bled to death and that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

With Everen, a 23-year-old Muslim guy, he was a passenger in his sister's car in Crystal Palace when two guys walked by and threw in a chocolate bar. He was a respectable lad and he said politely 'what on earth are you doing?'

They put a knife to his throat. He never provoked them but one punched him and Everen fell to the floor, fell into a coma and died.

It was the middle of the day, a bit like when Jimmy was killed.

To those yobs: I will call you a yob. I will bring shame on upon your family - because this is about the terrible impact these murders have on the victims' families.

I don't want either of these deaths to be in vain. I want people to do something about the yobs in society.

What solved both of the cases was that a few good people, the witnesses, did something about it.

A lot of attention was given to what Fahri said in his trial. I think more emphasis should be put on what the few good people saw.

If you want to be a society that stands up to yobbishness then witnesses need to stand up and be counted.

THE YOUTH WORKER

Adel, a youth leader at Woolwich Mosque youth centre.

When most people see two people fighting in the street, they cross the road because they don't want to become victims themselves.

If kids are putting graffiti on the buses, no one says anything. The odd person will do something at these times but it's unlikely they will get any help from others around them.

It's often going to be the case that if you tell kids to stop, they will. It's always a hard decision to make

But the effect that not doing anything has on youths is that it seems like they have free reign.

They think nobody's telling me what to do - freedom. And then you get problems.

People talk about giving them longer sentences, but they'll be back in the same position again if nobody helps them. Young people like that need someone to talk to, to listen to them, to mentor them. It's no use saying some movie star or celebrity on TV can be their role model. They need a real person who knows what's going on in their area, on the streets, someone who takes a direct interest in them.

A mentor could make them a part of the community again. It could change their life.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

* THE Mizen family launched a 'Jimmy Bus' campaign in memory of their son last year. They are some £5,000 away from raising the £52,000 needed to buy community mini buses for youth groups Sidcup and Lewisham. To donate money to the Jimmy Bus appeal or to find out more about the Jimmy Mizen Trust, visit www.jimmymizen.co.uk. Cheques made payable to 'Jimmy Bus Appeal' can be posted to Jimmy Mizen Bus Appeal, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 45B Burnt Ash Hill, Lee, London, SE12 0AE.

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