In the absence of a common grievance to motivate the recent widespread rioting by young people in the United Kingdom, columnists, and even the British PM, have highlighted the link between the breakdown of the family and the lack of moral restraint evident those rioting.

Prominent UK columnist Melanie Phillips wrote that, “The causes of this sickness are many and complex . . . at the very heart of these problems lies the breakdown of the family . . .

“For most of these children come from lone-mother households. And the single most crucial factor behind all this mayhem is the willed removal of the most important thing that socialises children and turns them from feral savages into civilised citizens: a father who is a fully committed member of the family unit.”

In The Australian, Peter Saunders from the Centre for Independent Studies likewise wrote that, “about one-third of British children grow up in single-parent families, most of which are female-headed. Despite repeated protestations to the contrary, this is not a viable or desirable way to raise children, especially boys . . .

“Nor is there any secret about where to search for solutions: more effective enforcement of rules by authority (including the police and the schools) is needed to maintain a predictable sense of order and renewed support for strong, cohesive, traditional families is needed to sustain the conditions required for effective, moral upbringing.”

These themes are picked up precisely by the British PM, David Cameron, who says that a major response to the riots will be a greater focus on families and parenting, with a “family test” applied to all domestic policy. He has said:

“If it hurts families, if it undermines commitment, if it tramples over the values that keeps people together, or stops families from being together, then we shouldn’t do it.

“More than that, we’ve got to get out there and make a positive difference to the way families work, the way people bring up their children.”

If implemented, these are positive steps for the nurture of stable homes and secure lives for young people in Britain. Let’s hope policy-makers occur in Australia also see the importance of families in securing a safe and healthy society for all.