Anti Social Behaviour Orders have been given a fair amount of press coverage debating their effectiveness. Whilst some see them as the only means of avoiding further incidents others insist that they are viewed, by the recipients, as a ‘badge of honour’.
Whatever someone’s view they will no doubt believe that the youth concerned is little more than a hooligan who could use some discipline. They will immediately jump to the conclusion that the parents are at fault.
But when Zack was made subject to the terms of an ASBO people were generally surprised to find that his mother was supportive and had tried everything to keep her son on the straight and narrow.
From birth he was loved and cared for and started primary school as a polite, well mannered little boy. He got into a few scrapes, being given his first caution at the tender age of ten years of age, but was basically a ‘good boy’ until he reached secondary school.
He truanted and was disruptive in lessons and his mother was called in on several occasions to discuss his behaviour. He spent most of his second year taking a Conduct Form to each lesson - firstly to prove that he had actually attended that lesson and secondly to record his behaviour. During this time his mother received a letter warning her that she could receive a large fine or imprisonment if she did not ensure that he attended school.
Around this time he was given his second police caution after breaking in to a disused building with a group of friends. The summer holidays saw two police visits and countless complaints from the neighbours. By his third year things had deteriorated further. He was spending more and more time in the Exclusion Room at school and because this was evidently not proving to be effective his parents were grounding him at home as well.
Nonetheless there came a time when this did not work either and his mother was called in to collect him from the school premises. He was suspended on several occasions and threatened with permanent exclusion.
With the threat of expulsion his mother requested assistance from Social Services who were not able to help. But she did manage to obtain a placement at an alternative educational establishment. He left secondary school a few weeks later and his parents received a letter, from the Local Authority, expressing concern about his behaviour and the impending request for an ASBO.
His behaviour calmed down and the ASBO application was postponed. But ensuring that he attended the sessions and the work placement proved difficult as he was too large for his mother to physically drag there. She relied instead on persuasion, coercion and bribery. But still he did not attend regularly.
Trying to discipline him resulted in him running away for a ten day period. His parents were informed that Social Services could do nothing, as he was not ‘at risk’ and the police saw no point in returning him as his parents were not able to restrain him to keep him there.
Whilst he lived elsewhere, however, they were still legally responsible for him and would be held liable for any damage that he caused. He returned when he was accused of having vandalised several cars.
He was given a Final Warning for a Section 5 public order offence. He repeated this offence shortly afterwards resulting in his first court appearance and the application for a Referral Order. With this came the news that the application for the Anti Social Behaviour Order was now in place.
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