Both of our local papers ran a particular story this week, the Observer had it on their front page.Â I would link to it but the Obby has a perverse strategy of not putting their front page story on the front page of their web site (or anywhere else that I can find).Â It was the story of repeated vandalism at Manor Green school.
The Observer’s treatment of the story was like a case study in emotional manipulation, with a posed photo of a group of frowning children in wheelchairs next to their trashed minibus, phrases like “pupils left heartbroken”, a heart-wrenching description of one child’s reaction and a strident headline of “How could they?”Â I don’t think there are any boxes left unticked and quite right too!
I really hope that whoever has been wrecking the school did not realise exactly what they were doing, because I would hate to think of someone doing that if they did.Â The papers call the perpetrators “sick thugs”, “sick yobs” and “mindless hooligans” and the terms feel less hyperbolic than they normally do.Â I’m so used to the Daily Mail/Express tendency to throw those terms around that they have been devalued a bit and lost some of their force, but this time I can’t think of an adequate alternative ((Not one that the Crawley Observer could get away with printing anyway))
The headmaster hit the nail on the head when he said:
We have to speak for the children because they can’t speak for themselves.
This not a patronising generality – some of the pupils there literally can’t speak for themselves and possibly never will.Â It is also no exaggeration when they are called the most vulnerable in society.
The reality is even worse than the papers report though – it was not just the primary school which was affected, but also Manor Green College which is joined to it.Â I believe they also had one of their buses damaged, and the hydrotherapy pool which had its vents ruined is shared by both of them.
I have been to Manor Green a few times,Â seen the work done there, and been gratified by the huge expense we as taxpayers are going to in order to make sure that these children can have a chance to thrive.Â In less enlightened times and places many of them would have been shipped off to remote facilities to remain out of sight and out of mind.Â Lets put it this way – Manor Green is not the sort of place Ceau?escu would have approved of.Â Â I don’t think that any story I have read this year has made me as sad and angry as this one.
If you can, as some people say, judge a society by how it treats its least advantaged members then I reckon you can judge individuals that way too and the individuals responsible for this are really the lowest of the low.