The Loss of Innocence

Sex & Violence.

Two things that have been on my mind for the last few days.

And I need to talk about both of them.

Last week, I read a brilliant and important article by Grace Dent – about the impact of internet porn on young lives.

And it troubled me.

You can find it via this link:

The thing is, she’s absolutely right.

Let me tell you what I’ve seen.


I am the Police Match Commander at a Premier League game.

On the CCTV, we pick up a group of youngsters in the back row of the Away Section – a girl and a small group of boys. I couldn’t tell you exactly how old they are – but they don’t look much more than 16 or 17.

And something about their behaviour just isn’t right.

The camera stays on them and, to our absolute astonishment, the girl ducks down and appears to be performing an oral sex act on one of the boys. In broad daylight. In front of tens of thousands of football fans.

We respond as we should – motivated primarily by a concern for the welfare of the girl – but I’m in state of complete disbelief.


I’m a Superintendent at Islington in North London. Reports come through of a Gang Rape.

There can’t be many more heinous crimes.

A group of teenage boys have got access to a flat – and they’ve prepared it in advance.

Their unsuspecting young victim is lured inside and repeatedly raped – by one boy after another. It is an utter violation of the most horrifying and terrifying kind.

They throw her out and then proceed to forensically clean the location – attempting to remove every last trace of their wickedness.

And I am speechless.


I’m the Borough Commander for Southwark in South London.

Reports come through of a 14 year old boy alleging that he’s been raped.

A male suspect approached him in the street and produced a knife. He led him off the street and into a nearby estate. He took him up some stairs and, in the vicinity of one of the open landings, raped him.

In a public place, in the middle of the day.

Within about 48 hours, conclusive forensic evidence is secured – and a suspect is identified.

He is a 15 year old boy.

It absolutely stops me in my tracks. A fifteen year old boy accused of raping a fourteen year old boy.

Bloody hell.


I can’t quite describe the depth of feeling as I write these things.

I am a police officer; I am a dad; I am a human being.

And these things are happening on my watch:

• Extreme pornography, available without limit or restriction to anyone with an internet connection, irrespective of their age. (And anyone attempting to brush off the risks associated with allowing vulnerable boys unrestricted access to hardcore footage is being either willfully ignorant or willfully stupid);
• A whole genre of ‘Horror Porn’ films flushing across screens. Getting kicks out of torture;
• Endlessly explicit and suggestive imagery on billboards and buses;
• Misogynistic role models;
• What some young boys seem to expect;
• What some young girls seem to accept.

There’s so much that might be said about the catastrophic sexualisation of young people – but words honestly fail me.

For God’s sake, wake up.

There’s only so much picking up of the pieces that policing can do.


And it’s not just the sex that bothers me. It’s the violence too.

Much talk about gangs and knives in the last few days. And we are absolutely right to be concerned.

I have stood at too many murder scenes – in the haunted places where young men have lost their lives.


It is the summer of 2007 and London finds itself in the midst of a horrifying series of teenage murders.

I am walking along the street near West London Magistrates Court, deep in conversation with a member of staff from a nearby Youth Offending Service.

She begins talking about one teenage boy who is giving her and colleagues particular cause for concern.

‘The thing is,’ she says to me, ‘we don’t think he knows what dying is.’

I look at her with what is, I imagine, a fairly puzzled expression on my face.

She goes on to explain that this boy has played so many violent video games – in which he had been killed, only to get up and carry on shooting – that he genuinely has no concept of the finality of death.

My bemusement turns to disbelief – until I see it for what it is.

He has no other frame of reference; no understanding of true consequences; no comprehension of the fact that if he were to carry a knife – even for his own protection – the person most likely to be stabbed with it is him; no insight into the fact that joining a street gang is likely to make him less safe, not more; no realisation that real life just isn’t like a video game.


I am the Borough Commander in Camden, talking to a local Youth Worker. She is employed by an exceptional charity and is working in some of the Borough’s secondary schools.

She tells some powerful stories.

On one occasion, she headed into a local Girl’s School to meet with a particular group of teenagers for the first time. She was looking for a way to get the conversation started and, with an all female audience, she settled on the subject of relationships.

She began with a simple question: ‘What makes for a good relationship?’

And, to her surprise, she was met with complete silence.

No one said a word.

Finally, one teenage girl spoke up and – in response to that simple question about the makings of a good relationship – she said,

‘One where he doesn’t hit you.’

Pause and think about her answer for a moment. I’ve related that short story to a number of people on a number of different occasions and I never cease to be horrified by her reply.

Even if you were to try to argue that her views were not broadly representative of her peer group, the fact is that this young woman is growing up in our society – and the sum total of her aspirations for a relationship is the faint hope of avoiding violence.

And, of course she isn’t the only one.


I’m the Night Duty Inspector at Fulham and I’m last man standing. Everyone else is in with prisoners or otherwise off the road.

Call to shots fired.

Down the side street next to McDonald’s on the North End Road. I can’t be more than 400 yards away. Just one of those coincidences.

Big, deep breath. If not me, then who?

I park the car on the main road and walk the last bit. Cautiously. Hesitantly. I can’t hear anything.

But you just never know what you’re going to find.

I put my head round the corner. A group of armed men standing round a saloon car that’s come to a stop diagonally across the road.

A long split second later, I quietly breathe out. They’re the good guys – in plain clothes.

They ought to have told us they were running an armed surveillance job – targeting guns and drugs – on our ground, but I’m too relieved to be annoyed.

They’ve put in a hard stop on the suspect vehicle they’ve been following – and the shots reported by members of the public were Hatton Rounds going into the tyres of the vehicle to immobilise it.

We exchange professional pleasantries and then I notice one of the bad guys – the rear seat passenger in the car.

He’s just a kid.

He’s in handcuffs, vomiting over someone’s front wall. Absolutely terrified.

How on earth did he get involved in something this serious?

He’s someone’s child…..


These are our children.

And there is a loss of innocence in our society – on our streets and in our homes.

It breaks my heart.

158 thoughts on “The Loss of Innocence

Add yours

  1. These children are most likely to of had a troubled childhood. I think the key is to.intervene at a young age and see through these children who are soon to be adults. Some may just need a good role model to not turn out like these people.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. ‘Innocence’ is an upper and middle class thing. From the past when kids worked the mines until today only the face of what is normal has changed. The problem is that it is the upper and middle class who define what is normal.
    I am as horrified as the next person about these things but what worries me most is that no none (as far as I can see) ever talks with them and gives them another kind of alternative. We only treat the consequences and don’t tackle the root of this behaviour. Blaming video games and violent films and porn is not the answer.
    If we could deeply and permanently change society to the point where there is no greed there would be no poverty, and without poverty there would always be hope.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. I read your article, then all the comments and although yes i am extremely sad and worried about my daughter’s future but at the same time so relieved to find that other are as shocked as myself and horrified at what is going on with the youth today! As long as there are still people with a concience in this world, people with moral values people that give a damn! there is still hope! we have to keep sharing our thoughts and beliefs with each other and the tortured souls in this world – there is hope!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s such a true statement, I’m a community worker and family support officer I’ve no words some days to express the shock in the eyes of numbed children. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is one of the most honest posts I have read. My dad is a cop, and told me a lot of gruesome stories. Our culture is so desensitized that we doing population control on each other, to the point that the upper class doesn’t need to pull anything.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow, this was very powerful. It is definitely up to our next generation of parents and people in influential positions to raise thoughtful and empowered children…too many kids these days are placed in front of a TV or computer without any second thoughts or guidance, so when they see these images, there is nobody there to tell them that this behavior or these things aren’t ok. Kids are becoming desensitized. For many, their first sexual experience involves porn, and that becomes their expectation and their only education on the matter in many cases. They think that is how they are supposed to treat each other and how they are supposed to be treated. And people wonder why rape is so prevalent…sorry for the stream of consciousness, but I get so worked up about this topic and have a hard time not just vomiting all my thoughts out..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have three boys and my eldest turns 13 next week. I’m shocked by what he tells me. I hope he has more sense, that I’ve brought him up right so far, that I’m still doing a good job. But it’s so hard with all these things around us.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Good post, and I want you to know that I appreciate the job you do, you see there are still some of us that like being and feeling safe.
    Pornography DID NOT create the youth of today; 7,000 years and counting of Children being unprotected, combined with the same amount of years of adults that see Our Children as sex objects, then with the degradation of the Family structure, what emerged was a world of NARCISSISTIC PLASTIC LEMMINGS that care nothing of Our Children and their well being.
    What this world of lemmings and all the Children need is a good wake-up call, shall we say an education in DEATH.
    I’m unsure as to your country, but the place I am thinking of does not exist as it did when I spent many years beside my GrandMother, as she boned heads in a slaughter house. There was at least one in all the small towns; a place where you KNEW the smell of blood, a place where you knew life did not end instantly….
    Keep up the Good Work!!!!


  9. As an encouragement to not just be Kitty Genovese bystanders… & i think a “Like” or “reblog” makes one a witness… so maybe for those for are able to help… go the extra mile for a kid today. It helps us all.


  10. Such a good read yet so difficult and scary to think about.

    I am just 23 and the idea of bringing my future children into this world is one that scares me the most. Even more so as I live in East London and these are the sorts of things I hear of on a weekly basis.

    We could mull all day over all of the ways we could avoid this, but the truth is, nobody really has a solution or answer, and that’s the scariest thought of it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ‘A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within’ ( Ariel Durant).

    As the police, you fight in the front trenches against the forces of disintegration and decay. In my teens i would bunk off school to hide in the dark hall of the Picton Library where I read Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History. It was probably the most influential book in my life. Toynbee’s image of a collapsing civilisation, with its ‘hundreds of millions of hidden, nameless victims (since during a ‘Fall’ nobody cares anymore) made a devastTing impression on me and directed my life’s path towards social science. What I learned was this: a ‘Fall’ seem like a catastrophe – but there are pathways through chaos…


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