Angela Wrightson murder: Parents have to take responsibility too

Photo of Angela Wrightson, taken some years before her death. Photo: Cleveland Police/PA Wire

Photo of Angela Wrightson, taken some years before her death. Photo: Cleveland Police/PA Wire - Credit: PA

There is, and will continue to be, a great deal of anger aimed at the two teenage girls who murdered Angela Wrightson in the most brutal and degrad-ing way in Hartlepool.

There will also, no doubt, be a build-up of anger at the social workers and care staff who were responsible for the 14- and 13-year-old killers.

Both responses are understandable. For 14 and 13 are ages at which there should be a clear understanding of right and wrong. And the word 'care' must be redefined if girls of this age can be allowed to do what they did.

However, while the responses are understandable, I wonder whether the people who bear the most responsibility for the crime will dodge the flak that they deserve.

Ultimately, it comes back to the parents.

There were people who brought these girls into the world. And from the moment they did, they assumed total responsibility for their welfare, health and behaviour.

But the records show that they failed spectacularly and – in some instances – wilfully.

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I am responsible for how my children behave. You are responsible for how your children behave. If you enjoy basking in reflected glory on Facebook when your child passes his grade seven flute exam, you must also be prepared to hold up your hand if he gets in trouble for bullying at school.

Sadly, for too many parents the default setting is denial.

They blame other children, teachers, the school and 'the wrong crowd'. They storm into school to harangue the headteacher because it is simply not possible that their child did something wrong.

Such things are a far cry from the neglect that helped create the two teenage killers.

But they are symptoms of the dereliction of duty shown by too many parents.

It is no coincidence that parents who take responsibility and make sure that their children do, too, tend to produce the most balanced and well behaved youngsters.

Those who can't be bothered often produce the opposite – and it's high time we pointed the finger at them.

•The views above are those of Steve Downes. Read more from our columnists in the EDP each day.