Broken Britain

I read interesting article in The Economist about whether Britain is broken. It concluded that actually it was going to be OK. But that the media was whipping things up.

I know what it means.

I can’t click on Yahoo without some gruesome story popping up on the home page. It rattles me and adds to my view that life is going down the tubes, that everyone is horrible and that if we’re not constantly, exhaustively vigilant, horrible things will happen to us and our loved ones.

I have been railing for years now among my friends about the sensationalism of our local papers. They are propped up on boards in front of the local shops to scream the local horrors.

It’s insidious and I worry about the effect this has on children.

There is a sweet shop near the school my children attend. After school it is swarmed with little kids who are just beginning to read, buying their bag of sweets. (I know, I know, their teeth are going to fall out—but one crusade at a time.)

I have watched as both my children came of reading age and began deciphering the headlines. The shocked look as they worked their way through the line and the startled look on their faces. Then their turning towards me for an explanation. Unfortunately, I don’t have one.

So now if I see a particularly nasty one, I hurry them past, talking loudly about other things.

But I’m angry. I’ve often been tempted to take pictures of my kids licking their ice creams and standing on either side of one of these boards. Smiles on their little faces as they contemplate headlines like:

Body Found Hanged in Woods

Acid Rape of Local Girl

Girl, Sexually assaulted,  Snatched from the Street.

Last week it read, Mum of Four Found Beaten to Death.

I’d had enough. I walked into the shop and asked for the owner to take it down. “Children come in here. That’s terrifying.”

It’s in his contract with the local papers, he said, he has to put them up. But to his credit he understood the mother angle would be particularly distressing to young children. So he took this one down.

I felt good about myself for about two days until the next headline appeared:

Boy Drowns in Puddle

photo by Martin Deutsch (flickr)

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Broken Britain

  1. Maybe you could make some of your own signs (It’s the same exact way here)…like ”
    Woman Survives Terrible Accident with No Injuries”
    “Boy Wins Award for Helping Elderly Neighbor”
    “Today, Nobody was Murdered!”
    “Lost Puppy Finds Wonderful New Home”

    He’ll probably take those down since he has no “contract” with you – but it might be amusing for at least an hour. 🙂

  2. ninakillham

    That is an excellent idea! Wish you could come over and we could make them together.

  3. merrill

    If they don’t read it on the boards it’s elsewhere… like the Aol home page my 8 yr old likes to read the awful headlines only.
    May I also take this moment to mention the health scare posters at our local surgery we had to look at today?….talk about depressing….
    My son now thinks he has every disease and is dying soon!
    I really like that sign idea that Lisa mentioned!!…

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