This week the Government announced a programme of vaccinations for children aged between 12 and 15. What’s more, the final decision will be down to the child, not their parents. I hope the number of cases where a child goes against their parents’ wishes are few. It is such an emotive subject. And we have suffered such losses these past 18 months, we shouldn’t fall out over this now. The one thing we have all discovered is how reliant we are on family and friends.
However I do have an opinion and, for what it’s worth, it is as follows. Please, please listen to the medics who are tirelessly trying to give the best advice. They must be as exhausted as we all are with this.
I trust most parents will have their children jabbed, though I well remember the worry we went through, as all parents did, when we took our little ones for their vaccinations. More importantly, I trust most parents will do their research and discuss the need for Covid vaccinations with their youngsters, because needed they are. Whatever the armchair medics on social media say. And as for some rapper in the States now becoming an expert because a friend of a friend was made impotent (which is not a side effect), Lord give me strength. Stick to singing, my love. Of sorts.
This virus is still out there. Already ICU beds in some hospitals are more than half full with Covid patients. Most have not been double-jabbed. Many are young. And we have been warned it can only get worse as winter approaches. If we are to avoid vaccination passports, which personally I am in favour of, if we are to avoid compulsorily mask wearing, which in my view should never have been abandoned, then vaccination is the only safeguard we have. And that includes young people.
Of course the vast majority of 12 to 15-year-olds will not end up in hospital with the virus. But some will and those who don’t will miss valuable schooling if they catch it. And that will have a serious impact on their whole future.
So it is right that they are given the right to choose. Because we all make choices in life. And those choices have serious consequences. Learning that lesson, being part of the decision making, is called growing up. And let’s face it, it is not so long ago in the 1960s when the school leaving age was 15, after which you were considered old enough to make your own way in the world.
I see nothing wrong in involving young people themselves in making this important decision provided, in medical speak, they are found to be competent. And the vast majority are. At 15 you are beginning to know your own mind.
At 15, you certainly know right from wrong. And the law says so. Which is why Shamima Begum can bleat all she likes about only being 15 when she left this country to become an ISIS bride. I don’t want her back. She knew what she was doing and still maintains her innocence. This young woman frightens me. And nothing she said this week to Good Morning Britain has changed my mind. In fact it has made me even more concerned about her as she claims to have known nothing.
Her claim she didn’t know ISIS was a terrorist death group. What nonsense. What did she think they were.. a peaceful religious cult? She grew up with the repercussions of 9/11. Of course she knew. We all do.
As for her bleating that ‘it’s only me you would be taking back as my three babies are dead’...what kind of a cold-hearted cynical woman are we dealing with here? Yes, I believe young girls can be groomed but who on earth would not weep for her three dead children?
Shamima Begum is a cold and dangerous woman. As for her audacity saying she should she be allowed back because she could help in the fight against terrorism “because you are clearly struggling against extremism in your country”, how dare she?
Her choice of words – “your country” – speaks volumes. It is our country, a country she turned her back on with devastating and murderous repercussions. If before me this week I had seen a young woman bowed with guilt, begging for forgiveness with all her heart, weeping for her dead children my views just might, and I say might, have softened. As it is she knew what she was doing aged 15. She knew what she was doing when she tried to soften her image this week. And it didn’t work. What’s more it left me cold. And anxious.
Sajid Javid immediately defended his decision as the then Home Secretary to take away her British citizenship, saying: “If you know what I knew you would have made exactly the same decision.” I suspect we know nothing of the real Shamima Begum. I suspect she will do and say anything to come back home. Well, she gave up that home and I for one do not want her here.
There are young people here who are being asked to make difficult decisions, are often being pushed from pillar to post because of peer pressure or what they read on social media. Their safety is my main concern.
And from where I am sitting Shamima Begum turning on the charm offensive with her ‘poor me’ story does nothing to persuade me her return does not threaten that safety. She has made her bed. Now she must lie in it.