The fourth week’s addition to the Festival of Ideas came from John Carnochan OBE (QPM hon. LLD FFPH). The first point made was the importance of “responding differently” and being able to adapt our mindset. Mr Carnochan was a police officer in Strathclyde for almost 40 years and spent a large proportion of time-solving murder cases. He used this experience to enlighten the pupils in attendance about the control of violence. It was made extremely clear that as human we do not have to be taught to be violent but rather how not to be violent.
The treatment of children was one of the main focuses of this talk. The age highlighted as the most important when attempting to limit violence was age three and below; these are the ages during which a human learns compassion, empathy, and connection. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) are the factors that very often cause violent tendencies later in life. These factors limit the human connection these children can attain and cause them to seek attention in the form of bullying and acting out in class. This becomes even worse if they do not gain a basic education, by learning to read and write. Those who experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences were 11 times more likely to be incarcerated. One quote highlighted by John Carnochan was originally stated by Frederick Douglass, African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman, “It’s easier to build stronger children than repair broken men.”
Women were also highlighted as targets for violence. Domestic violence figures are inaccurate because on average a women will be abused 34 times before she reports it. John Carnochan told the crowd that through his experience, he has come to the conclusion that society needs to fix violence against women before we can fix violence as a whole. 99.8% of rapists in the world are men. This paints a nasty picture of society.
Mr Carnochan ended his speech on a more inspirational tone. His message was that “if you’re going to fail, fail spectacularly”. He used imagery depicting a cathedral designer and stated that if one aims high and fails they will achieve more than those who aim low and are successful. His advice continued and included the line “plan for the best and compromise from there”. The message also included the importance of the term “hope” and the ability for humans to change. It was incredible to be in the presence of such an impressive, compassionate man, who promoted understanding the situation of every action and of helping children when it truly counts.
Rachel Macmillan (S6)