Crime and Punishment

“So, I’m driving along the motorway, and I’m going 85 miles an hour. And hey, I know that technically I’m breaking the law, but look everyone else is doing it. And the rule is stupid anyway. I’m a good driver and my car is built to go this fast and … quick, hit the brakes. Phew. Just in time. There’s a cop car on the side of the road. Now I’m going 69.9 miles an hour. Just like everyone else. Lucky it wasn’t an unmarked car, otherwise they’d have got me for sure. And now I’m looking in my rear view mirror and as soon as the police car is out of sight I’m back up to 85 miles an hour, cos I’m in a rush and anyway if I don’t keep up with the speed of the other cars on the road they’ll tailgate me. And then it starts to pour with rain. Not a gentle drizzle, but that kind of torrential rain. I put my wipers onto the fast setting, but still I can’t see the road ahead, so I slow down to about 60 miles an hour. Got to think of safety, haven’t you, when you’re in a car?

And anyway, then I come off the motorway and I drive into a residential part of town and I’m doing 30 miles an hour like everyone else, cos we know there are lots of cameras here. And it’s 3.15pm, so it’s school kicking out time. And I drive past that school. There’s a big yellow 20 flashing at me, and they even made a sign. You know that one? The one where the kids painted a snail and wrote ‘Please slow down, don’t crush me under your wheels like a snail’ in kiddie writing, so I do slow down a bit. I feel a bit guilty, if I’m honest. And you know what, I was only doing just over 20 miles an hour. But this time I didn’t see the cop car on the side of the road.

I can tell you, I was well embarrassed. They stopped me and they asked me if I knew how fast I was going. And, I admitted that, yes, maybe I was doing a tiny bit over the speed limit. Then they gave me a choice. They said I could either have the points and the fine, or I could come into the school cos there was someone who wanted to talk to me. And I thought, ‘hey, I don’t care, I’ll speak to the head teacher if you want, I’m no coward’. So they took me into the school hall, and it was empty. Well, almost empty. There was a chair, and they asked me to sit in it. And opposite the chair where I was sitting there was a row of four other chairs, but at that point there was no one in them. And then the door to the hall cracks open and do you know who walks in? Four children. I’m not kidding you. Four little children, patter of tiny feet and all that. And the kids sit down opposite me and their tiny faces look at me, all innocent and fresh. And one of them says to me: ‘Can you tell us why you were speeding past our school?

And BOOM! I’m never, ever, ever going to do that again.”

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4 Responses to Crime and Punishment

  1. Scary facing those children! Sometimes it takes a shock to make us more aware of potential consequences of our decisions.

  2. Carl Evans says:

    All these teachers in my school hooting and banging and blaring on about restorative justice. Is this an example of restorative justice Sue? I hear so many different explanations that im beginning to find the term a total waste of my time and energy. Restorative justice, whatever

  3. suecowley says:

    The metaphor is designed to show the difference between managing behaviour, and trying to change it (much more complicated to do). The police have found that addressing the morals that underpin a driver’s behaviour is surprisingly effective in helping them decide to change.

  4. Trofim says:

    Blatant manipulation of children and emotional blackmail combined. Nifty!

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