Retired Teacher John Milnes on Why Youth Seem to be Out of Control Around the World – Letter to the Editor – August 22, 2011

South Stormont ON – Societies across the globe are wondering why the youth of today is out of control.  At the G8/G20 Toronto event, despite the legitimate protests, there was property destruction, thieving, looting and general mayhem that the police appeared unable to control. Again, in Vancouver after not winning the Stanley Cup, more property was destroyed, with looting by young hoodlums completely out of control and drawn to the gatherings through the instant effectiveness of social media. 

In London similar elements took over parts of the oldest cultural centre in the world, escalating then to cities not even remotely connected to the original cause.  The Arab Spring, though its main cause was a fight for democracy, is another example of thugs and looters using it as an excuse for their criminal acts. 

Experts tell us this is all about social deprivation; the young not being able to find employment.  Nonsense.  Britain’s prime minister has got it right, “these are thugs and hooligans, who must be made to pay the price for their destructive ways.”  Such adverse behaviour costs law abiding citizens endless tax dollars  as police struggle to bring order to our cities, towns and villages.  More damaging is the loss of life, as happened in Birmingham, England, together with injuries our brave policemen and women sustain and the destruction of public property.

However, simply punishing these thugs and hooligans is not good enough.  To put our decent young folk – and there are many – on the right track we need to get to the root of this social upheaval.  We must first determine how these folk have developed their adverse behaviourisms.  The answer is quite simple: it is a matter of a lack of respect for their parents, their teachers and their society.

The animal world would not tolerate anti-social behaviour in its young.  It serves no purpose to say we are above the animal world because, in some respects, we are not.  If a parent or a teacher corrects a youngster’s poor behaviour, as an adult animal does, they surely bring down the wrath of some do-gooder organization.  Anti-social behaviour surfaces in our schools, often as bullying.  What can the teachers, the school boards or the parents do about this?  NOTHING.   We can expel the wrong-doer but this only serves the bully’s agenda, they do not want to go to school to learn.  It would be different if every expelled student was forced to become a ward of the courts and entered into a centre where their inappopriate behaviour could be addressed. 

Until a corrective behavioural structure is evolved the thugs will keep emerging, creating more criminals. 

So, the problem grows to where we presently are in our modern day societies.  How can this problem be solved?  By having our politicians, or the courts of law, demanding the do-gooders keep their noses out of family and school matters and evolving processes through which the problems of our young are addressed. 

As a retired teacher, spending many years helping social adjustment students from the SD &G County and Catholic boards and federal government native people’s school boards, I have first hand experience of how inexpert administrators and do-gooders are destroying the very fabric of our society.  In my recently published book, ‘Making A Difference’, I give examples of how administrators removed the tools I would have used, with parental consent, to correct the adverse behaviours of those in my care; how I was badgered by social workers because I had caused the wrongdoers to be accountable for their actions.

We are at a crossroad in our social development; we need to decide whether to go straight ahead allowing the do-gooders to defend the rights of the abuser against those of the abused.  In my opinion we should be making an abrupt left or right turn, changing course appropriately, as befits the needs of our cities, towns and villages.  The democratic right of different groups to assemble and protest peacefully should not be destroyed by thugs on the lookout to piggy-back with destructive anti-social actions. 

It is time for politicians to step up to the plate, to recognize what is wrong and to legislate appropriate measures that might address the problems stalking our streets.  It is essential we bring our families and schools back into the frame where discipline is the accepted basis of our social structure.  One way to achieve this would be to re-introduce conscription whereby every young person must spend, at minimum, six months under the eagle eye of military trainers.  Discipline would be imposed and likely ingrained for all-time. 

There needs to be a mass process that will change the present indiscipline in many of our young folk into a disciplined structure that profits us all.  It would be costly but, wait a moment, isn’t it already costing every branch of society to maintain the unacceptable situation that presently exists? 

Are we content to allow this anarchy to march ever forward?  We cannot blame the parents for their hands have been tied behind them; we cannot blame the teachers for they have been shackled and fitted with blinkers.  It is the failure of our law makers, past and present, that has allowed this scene to evolve.  It is the politicians who must provide the answer to the societal dilemma. 

John E. Milnes – South Stormont

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JL Computers


  1. I wonder if students creating a fuss could be given punishment suited to the act. Act out in class, write a page of dictionary while sitting in the corner of the class. Failed to hand in assignment on time, loss of a letter grade or no field trip for you or even the class are examples. For every action there is a reaction so, crime / punishment.
    We need to give Teachers the tools to teach, and parents not providing supervision and giving consequences to actions is not helping.

    The government is US, and I hope a few people print out the letter and mail it to their MPP & MP or, start a special interest group, there is one for everything else.

  2. Well Mr. Milnes, the adults are surely out of control. The kids know that, from glancing at the occasional headline. Many would agree that the deviance of the powerful can influence the deviance of the powerless. The kids look up, the parents look up and they see powerful people committing grave crimes and there is little outcome of consequence. Governments are giving increasing submission and services to corporations who share many psycho-pathological attributes. There are big hit documentaries on that subject.

    Last month local schools were bragging about having a 30% illiteracy rate! In the blame game, I blame the parents, for their hands have been tied behind them, we can blame the teachers, for they have been shackled and fitted with blinkers. The kids saw, or will come to understand, that their parents and teachers gave in to bullying from all avenues. I can freely blame the huge minority of voters who don’t vote and may tip into the majority (what to do then?). I blame poor quality text books and those who would profess to teach them rather than refuse. I blame the lack of parent and teacher’s associations. Expulsion for unruly kids was a great idea in the past and remains a great idea today. “A mass process that will change the present indiscipline in many of our young folk into a disciplined structure that profits…”who? The corporations that many see being the cause of complaint in the first place? Who, the Very Important People who create law that may be unsuitable for the rest of us? Who will profit from this hive mentality? Young people live under threat. We all live under threat. Science, logic and reason are stonewalled at every turn. Bravery is confused with compliance. Increased brain washing could also have an impact on reality and many would urge a change in the flow of the grand massage. I wish we had more teachers with the courage of Mr. Milnes to speak out and take a chance on sharing their thoughts.

  3. Yes Mr. Milnes….It’s quite clear what kind of ethics you hold. Hammer them down…don’t let them think…most of all keep them in line. It’s wonderful for the children that you’re finally retired, though my heart goes out to all those you’ve brow beaten in your time as a teacher.

    Here’s a few other stories of people that think as you do…

    Jack Christie, a 12th-grade student from Whitby gets suspended over satirical cartoons posted on youtube…

    Kieran King, a grade 10 student is suspended over voicing his ‘opinion’ on marijuana stating “In my opinion, cannabis is safer than they say, it is not worse than alcohol or tobacco,”

    A 14 year old boy (unnamed) from Levis Quebec was suspended after outing a school worker, who moonlighted as a PORN STAR.

    Emil Cohen, a student from Toronto is suspended for criticizing the school’s treatment of the soccer team.

  4. I think we can thank our teachers for a portion of how our kids act.

    Remember you lead by example and maintain the strike if provoked mentality.

  5. I usually agree with most of what John E. Milnes writes, but in this case, maybe not. For sure some of the vandalism and looting is done by stupid middle-class kids who need a good spanking. I say stupid because there are cameras everywhere, and anybody but a fool would know they will be caught and charged. The 45 minute rampage at the G8 last summer was allowed to proceed, and probably was set up by the police. Thousand of extra cops on the streets to prevent just this sort of thing, and they didn’t bother to show up ’till it was done and window smashers had left the area. We all know what the cops did the following day.
    As far as the unrest (demonstrations, riots, rebellions) happening in most places, I think we can look forward to more and more as long as there are a few filthy rich for every few million living in poverty. It has to do with the distribution of wealth and opportunities.

  6. Its very simple,..these hooligans know very well they will get away with it. There is no “real” penalty for rioting, strength in numbers. And if they are caught, they will be out of jail the next day, their names will be with held from print…to protect them! (sic) Most youth know the whole justice system is a joke.
    heaven forbid some youth actually gets named, sentenced and given community hours, weekend jail time, and a hefty fine…then you would have tons of politically correct groups complaining how mistreated they were. Well people, LIVE with your poor choices…you have your own youth with NO respect or accountability…give them a “time out”…yeah right!

  7. Furtz: I am sorry I did not make myself clear. However, in my opinion, it is because parents can no longer spank their child that our ‘out of balance’ society is evolving thus.

    To those who wish to blame the economy, poverty or any other unrealistic cause you have yet to study this problem from close quarters.

    Antagonizer: As a ‘do-gooder’ you can, no doubt live with the anarchy that is evolving. At the end of the day there has to be a consequense for any action and it is foolish to avoid this basic fact. Much like saying a child cannot fail at school. What sort of teaching mode is this? At a soccer match or a foot race someone wins and someone loses. We MUST teach the losing side as well as the winning side. I would recommend Antagonizer read my recently published book, “Making A Difference” for then it will become apparent I had taken on the ultimate challenge, to change the adverse behaviours of children who could not fit into the regular classroom. Because of the extreme behaviours exhibited by my students the law set the class size at eight – I had, often, to confront students with a knife intent to kill or one with a chair over his head to harm me. Over time, with patience and dedication, I was able to cause most students to be able to return to the regular classroom. Without this educational intervention such students would be denied their rightful opportunity to an education. Perhaps Antagonizer would prefer these students be denied an education!

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