Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cameron plans updated national service for youngsters

LONDON (Reuters) - Conservative leader David Cameron is to call on Thursday for a modern-day national service to help foster "values of self-respect and social responsibility" among disenchanted youngsters.
He will suggest school leavers should undertake six weeks of voluntary charity work and physical training during the summer holidays to help groom them for adulthood.
He is to portray the scheme as a 21st-century equivalent to peacetime national service in the armed forces, which was used by the government between 1949 and 1960.
The move comes on the same day Prime Minister Gordon Brown confirmed a 21 billion-pound cash injection over the next three years for schools building improvements and the launch of a national debate about how children's services could be improved during the next 10 years.
The issue of anti-social behaviour and youth crime is high on the political agenda after a spate of teenage killings and growing worries about excessive drinking.
Cameron is to tell his audience in Bolton: "In the last century we had something that helped create a rite of passage, that brought people together from different backgrounds, that helped instil a sense of responsibility and that taught young people self-respect: That was national service.
"Ask anyone who did national service and they all say the same thing: 'It was something we all did together'.
"I don't want to bring back national service but I do want to bring forward a 21st-century equivalent: Not national service but National Citizen Service."
In Bristol, Brown and Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, launched a national discussion called "Time to Talk."
The debate, attended by more than 50 parents, teachers, children and social care professionals was the first in a series of public events and consultation exercises that will take place during the next two months.
The ideas will go forward and help shape the government's "Children's Plan."
Balls said: "Now is the time to listen to people about what we can do better to help children achieve the best education, have a happy, healthy and safe childhood and prevent young people going off the rails and getting into trouble."
Cameron: It's about bloody time too!
Balls: The time for talking about how to deal with young thugs is over. Now it's time beat the little fuckers into line.

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