Monday, August 21, 2006

Antisocially High Hedges

I was skimming through The Washington Times website when I stumbled on a story by the United Press International out of Scotland.

"Scotland orders parents to do a better job."

A group of parents in Scotland's capital of Edinburgh are about to face jail unless they do more to control their troubled teenagers.

Lawyers for the town council are drawing up what is known as "Parenting orders," informing up to 10 families that they have to do a better job of parenting or face fines and jail, the Edinburgh Evening News reports.

"This is not a punishment," says Councilor Ewan Aitken. "We are helping struggling parents to help themselves for the good of their children."

Using powers handed to it under the Antisocial Behavior Act, the council can order parents to do such things as attend anger management classes, enroll in drinking and drug rehab or spend times with social workers learning how to cook and manage a household budget.

According to officials, the parenting orders are mainly issued as a last warning before steps are taken to move a child into state care.

This story in and of itself is not what was so shocking to me. Parents all over the world do a cruddy job of raising their kids and often let their spoiled teens get away with whatever they want to. I think just giving the kids a good old fashioned whoopin' would go along way. Instead, what got me was the "Antisocial Behavior Act" that Great Britain apparently has. I'd never heard of such a thing.

Needing to know a little about this Antisocial Behavior Act, I opened a new tab on my Internet Explorer browser and did what any scholar does...I Googled it. Sure enough, there is indeed an Antisocial Behavior Act on the books in Great Britain. The act deals with much of what one would expect from any law under the name "Antisocial Behavior Act:" drug use, bad parenting, firearms and others.
As I scanned through the table of contents I didn't see to much out of the ordinary. Until, of course, I came to Part 8: "High Hedges." High hedges are now a sign of antisocial behavior? I did not know that!
So what exactly constiutes a high hedge one may ask? Well, the act lays it out quite plainly in Number 66:

(1) In this Part "high hedge" means so much of a barrier to light or access

(a) is formed wholly or predominantly by a line of two or more evergreens; and

(b) rises to a height of more than two metres above ground level.

Further more, Part 8, Number 66 covers any line of hedges where the evergreens are spaced out, rather than having been planted closely together:

(2) For the purposes of subsection

(1) a line of evergreens is not to be regarded as forming a barrier to light or access if the existence of gaps significantly affects its overall effect as such a barrier at
heights of more than two metres above ground level.

(3) In this section "evergreen" means an evergreen tree or shrub or a semi-evergreen tree or shrub.

What are the Brits really doing over there? Surely high hedges is not really so grave a concern as to be so thoroughly addessed. Or maybe it is? I don't really know. What I do know is that while Parliament debated hedge height, crazed extremists were plotting attacks on the entire Western World. I also am quite sure that if I ever move to England (which is highly doubtful), I will remember not to allow my hedges to grow over 2 meters high, unless of course said evergreens have been properly spaced for maximum light allowance. Good grief!


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