I received shocking news over the weekend – news that had been kept from me because of worries about how I would react whilst away from home or focused on other matters.
Two weeks ago, on a trip to the local shopping centre (Telford), my eldest daughter, 16, split off from friends briefly so she could go to the toilet. Whilst in the vicinity of the centre’s bus station, she was accosted by a group of boys (similar age to herself and a little older). They wanted to “get with her” and when she rejected their advances, they manhandled her roughly, pushed her against a wall and caused scratches on her arms.
For years, I have had both of my daughters take karate classes at a full-contact club with very high standards. The primary reason for doing this was for defence. To have the techniques to protect yourself, to know you take hits, take pain, be hurt and still fight and protect yourself.
My daughter knocked four of the boys to the ground and “legged it” (something else her Sensei had taught her – use your skills to give yourself a chance to run away, even the best can not take on a large group).
She got to a more public area and cleaned up a number of shallow knife cuts, got herself together and called her friends to come and join her.
That evening, she told us nothing. A few days later, she told my wife about the experience and my wife arranged for her to be checked out by a nurse.
I do not know why she did not tell us that evening. I do not think she knows herself. Generally, we are a very open family and share most things. I think she wanted to come to terms with the experience herself.
On Father’s day last week, they chose not to tell me rather than spoil the day. Ironically, over the Sunday-roast my daughters had cooked for me, I kicked off a discussion on being street wise.
I put forward the view that my kids were not that street-wise and that it was a gap in their upbringing, I said this put them at a disadvantage on the street especially in recognising patterns of behaviour and movement of people that could be risky. I also made the point that certain locations in my view were especially risky and picked out Telford Bus Station in particular – little knowing that my daughter had been attached there the week before. My wife and my youngest daughter had been sworn to secrecy by my eledest daughter but were willing her to speak up at the time but she chose not to – did not want to spoil my day!