GERRY LOUGHRAN

By GERRY LOUGHRAN
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Helen, a single parent from South Yorkshire, has called the police three times to protect her from her 11-year-old daughter.

“She would hit me in the car while I was driving, grab hold of my throat and also hit her brother,” Helen said. “The last time I made a 999 call I was sat behind a door while she was trying to get through it to get at me.”

Helen’s experiences are set out in a BBC article which stated that the number of reported crimes involving children attacking parents in Britain has doubled in the past three years, from 7,224 in 2015 to 14,133 in 2018.

West Midlands Police saw such incidents nearly treble while Metropolitan (London) Police figures also rose, though at a lesser rate.

Tony Madden, from the mental health charity Young Minds, said, “The figures are alarming but they don’t surprise us. When a young person is behaving in this way towards their parents there is a high likelihood that some sort of mental distress is involved.”

Such behaviour could indicate a cry for help, he said, though such support was too often hard to find.

Helen said: “I’ve been off work ill with it, just couldn’t cope. I‘ve lost a relationship through it. I lost the support of my parents for a while because they couldn’t cope with it either. It’s hard because you don’t want them to get a criminal record at age 11, but there’s no support.”

Last week we reported on MPs being abused and threatened on social media. This week it’s the turn of black footballers who make a mistake and are abused by their own team’s fans.

The latest example came at Manchester United last Monday when the French star Paul Pogba had a penalty saved during a 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers and suffered a torrent of online criticism.

He became the third player in a week to have racist abuse directed at him after a penalty miss.

It happened also to the British-born Tammy Abraham, playing for Chelsea against Liverpool, and to Reading striker Yakou Meite from the Ivory Coast, who came on as a substitute against Cardiff and whose spot-kick was saved.

Manchester United said they were disgusted by the Pogba abuse. “We will work to identify the few involved in these incidents and take the strongest course of action available to us,” a statement said. “We encourage social media companies to take action in these cases.”

United’s England centre-back Harry Maguire said: “Let’s stop these pathetic trolls,” and suggested social media users should have to verify their identity before opening an account.

Another United player, Marcus Rashford, said on Twitter, “Enough! Manchester United is a family and Paul Pogba is a huge part of that family. You attack him and you attack all of us.”

Chelsea FC condemned “abhorrent posts” aimed at Abraham, who is just 21. Manager Frank Lampard said he was disgusted and called on social media companies to do more to protect players.

The new incidents are in line with increased racism in British football generally. The anti-racism charity, Kick It Out, calculated recently that reports of such abuse increased by 43 per cent last season, with 274 cases, up from 192 in the season before.

Head of development for the charity, Troy Townsend, said people spouting targeted racial hatred were increasing due to lack of accountability and counter-action.

Sports Minister Nigel Adams said: “The football season is only a few weeks old and yet we have already witnessed sickening examples of racism. Social media companies must do more and the government will hold them to account.”

The six-year-old French boy who was hurled from the top of a London building earlier this month has had “two long and difficult operations,” according to his parents. There were no details as to the full extent of his injuries but the parents said they were “hopeful” for his continued recovery.

The boy plunged five storeys at the Tate Modern art gallery after being picked up by a 17-year-old youth who was said to have mental problems. The youth has been charged with attempted murder and is expected to appear in court next year after extensive psychiatric investigations.

Two vaguely literary jokes this week:

A little girl was asked to design and write her own newspaper. The result was very good but there were lots of spelling mistakes. When it was suggested that she should correct these errors, she thought for a while then said, “I think I will leave the spelling mistakes. It will make it look more like a real newspaper.”

Doctor Johnson’s reply on being sent an unsolicited manuscript: “Your manuscript is both good and original. Unfortunately, the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that are original are not good.”