Byline: GERALD WARNER
ALARM is being expressed over the shocking new murder statistics for Scotland which show there were 120 homicide victims north of the Border in 1999,compared with 98 the previous year.
That is a staggering rise in a single year. To put Scotland's predicament into perspective, there are now 23 homicides per million people in this country. That compares with a rate of 14 in England and Wales. Even more tellingly, it is already one-third of the rate in the United States, the most violent country in the developed world.
The root causes are both social and political. The murder rate is not rising in isolation; it is the most extreme manifestation of an overall decline in civility at every level.
It begins with the undisciplined child. If it has two parents - a diminishing family profile - they may fail in discipline for a variety of reasons.
They may both be out at work for much of the day; at home they are tired and disinclined to confront the steely will of the modern brat.
Television snacks have ousted family meals; television, video and the Internet have destroyed communication and intimacy among family members.
One of the most shocking aspects of the new homicide figures is the fact that 25 per cent of victims were killed by a relative. Families have become so dysfunctional that some are now forums for murder.
The growing phenomenon of single mothers leaves a huge proportion of boys without any proper male …