Fragmented Communities

Racism, hate crimes, violence, segregation, loneliness and social isolation

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

This article explores the reasons why ‘Community’ is one of nine learning themes in the proposed MAC life-based learning framework.

The importance of community to life

Communities are important because they allow people to interact with each other, share experiences, develop valued relationships and work toward a common goal. Without communities, people would have to live isolated lives with minimal or no contact outside of their immediate circle. Getting to know new people is essential to the enrichment of a person’s life.

Reference: Why are communities important?

The problem

One of the most destructive problems is the breakdown of community, and it is this breakdown that has often led to the breakdown of persons. Though we may put many around us, we are alone. Relationships have become superficial, there is no longer concern for the other, and we are pressed by societal and financial pressures to focus on our own survival. We do not concern ourselves much with the plight of others except a few we may call family or friends, and even then, our concern and attention is waning.

Psychology Today: Dan L. Edmunds Ed.D., B.C.S.A. Distress and the breakdown of community

The evidence

The ‘every man for himself’ attitude to life is having dire consequences for community life in Britain and society as a whole. It is evidenced by racism, hate crimes, violence, segregation, loneliness and social isolation.

Racism

The following article is interesting as it is provided by a company which gives advice and support to people thinking of relocating to Britain. It prepares them for the ‘Discrimination and Racism in the UK’ that people of varying ethnic and religious backgrounds may face.

Even though the UK is, generally speaking, home to a peaceful, diverse and enlightened society, there are some worrisome and serious divides. 

Religious discrimination, particularly Islamophobia, is once again on the rise in the UK — many people say this is due to its growing presence in political discourse.

Following the Brexit referendum, the UK saw a sharp increase in the number of xenophobic attacks carried out.

Discrimination and racism in the UK

Elsewhere, the article identifies the notable rise in antisemitic incidents in recent years.

It is clear that hate crimes are on the increase.

Hate crimes

The number of hate crimes has more than doubled from 2012/13 from 42,255.

in 2018/19 there were 103,379 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 10% compared with 2017/18 (94,121 offences).

The majority of hate crimes were race hate crimes accounting for three-quarters of offences (78.991)

Edited from Home Office: Hate Crime: England and Wales, 2018/19 stats

Violence

In the most high-risk areas – urban areas with high levels of poverty – up to 90 per cent of children have been exposed to some level of community violence.

Community violence refers to deliberate acts of interpersonal violence committed in a neighbourhood. It might involve a chase, a physical attack or a verbal threat.

[Violence] has a highly negative effect on the young person – frequently leading to school dropout and educational failure – as well as on their families, teachers and society.Loneliness

The Conversation: How living in violent communities can affect children’s behaviour

Segregation

Intentional, or otherwise, segregation between young and old is a social issue in Britain.

Britain is one of the most age-segregated countries in the world with divisions between generations increasing over the last decade, according to a report.

It says people often have little contact with other generations outside their own families. Divisions have grown, it says, partly as a result of housing market trends, with wealth concentrated among older generations who tend to live in towns and rural areas while younger people gravitate towards cities

The Guardian: Britain is one of world’s most age-segregated countries – study finds

Loneliness

According to Age UK, more than 2 million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than a million older people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member.

NHS: Loneliness in older people

…. based on current population projections, the number of people aged 50 and over living in England who will often feel lonely will increase by half a million people by 2020/21 and reach 2 million people by 2025/26

Age UK: September 2018: All the lonely people: Loneliness in later life

Loneliness can occur for anyone at any time:

For some people, certain life events may mean they feel lonely, such as: experiencing a bereavement; going through a relationship break-up; retiring and losing the social contact you had at work; changing jobs and feeling isolated from your co-workers; starting at university; moving to a new area or country without family, friends or community networks.

Mind: for better mental health: Loneliness

Surprisingly:

Younger adults aged 16 to 24 years reported feeling lonely more often than those in older age groups.

Office for National Statistics: Analysis of characteristics and circumstances associated with loneliness in England using the Community Life Survey, 2016 to 2017

Childline carried out 4,636 counselling sessions for loneliness in 2017/18 – a 14% rise on the previous year1. Young people spoke to Childline about struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness due to mental health issues, bullying and social media use.

NSPCC: Lonely children

Social isolation

According to research by Kent County Council, a lack of community spirit could be causing chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes due to social isolation and loneliness.

This comes as a national survey by Neighbourhood Watch and The Co-op revealed only around a quarter of residents know all their neighbours.

The survey also found 85% of people have never invited their neighbour into their home and 24% believe they are a good neighbour by keeping to themselves.

Kent online: Social isolation made worse by lack of community spirit

The answer

We need our young people to grow into adulthood with an increased understanding of community and society, an increased sense of responsibility as contributing citizens to their communities and an attitude of looking out for others.

The obstacle

The current arrangements for learning in most countries around the globe focus on individuals preparing for work, not on community living.

An example is the National Curriculum in England. Its focus is on learning through a collection of subjects, with a particular emphasis on the two core subjects of English and mathematics, which are required for work.

Community education is pushed into the periphery of learning as an aspect of PSHE learning: ‘Living in the wider world — shared responsibilities’.

The solution

The solution is to raise the profile of Community Education in primary schools.

Presence + Focus + Attention = Results

The Merged Action Curriculum (MAC) is an example life-based curriculum for children aged 5 to 11, giving focus to Community Education as one of nine equal learning domains.

You can read more about Community Education through the indicative Community Study Action Areas:

  1. Britain’s culture — past and present
  2. The school community
  3. The local community
  4. Responsible citizens

As the old African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” One could imagine then that it would take a community to raise a school…… We need to work as a community to nurture our schools for our particular community needs.

I believe the answer to real education/school transformation is strong, authentic community connections and actions. When families, community groups, business and schools band together to support learning, young people achieve more in school, stay in school longer, and enjoy the experience more

Edutopia: 5 Steps to better school/community collaboration

The study action areas are a start in the right direction to fully developed learning programmes through which children grow to be contributing citizens

Michael Mac