Killing Forced City to Take Positive Action; on the First Anniversary of the Shocking Death of Rhys Jones, Liza Williams and Laura Sharpe Look at the Impact of His Murder on the Local Community, the World's Perception of Liverpool, and How Events in His Name Are Helping to Address Social Issues RHYS JONES MURDER ONE YEAR ON

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), August 22, 2008 | Go to article overview

Killing Forced City to Take Positive Action; on the First Anniversary of the Shocking Death of Rhys Jones, Liza Williams and Laura Sharpe Look at the Impact of His Murder on the Local Community, the World's Perception of Liverpool, and How Events in His Name Are Helping to Address Social Issues RHYS JONES MURDER ONE YEAR ON


Byline: Liza Williams and Laura Sharpe

THE shooting of 11-year-old schoolboy Rhys Jones a year ago today shocked our city, the country and filled thousands of column inches around the world last August.

The needless death of another youngster threw Liverpool into an unwanted spotlight yet again as an example of a violent city, a place where even children are no longer safe. Rhys's death, passing away in his mother's arms after being shot in the neck on his way home from football practice in Croxteth Park, has been held up as a symbol of how British society is failing.

Some coverage has reinforced old stereotypes, portraying Liverpool as a dangerous place where a gun culture is rife. And, although almost 15 years had passed since the city's other infamous child death - that of toddler James Bulger - the echoes were all too apparent.

Mike Keating, from Liverpool Hope University's Criminology department, has a keen interest in media coverage of the city, and has followed the press dating back to the similarly high-profile death of James in 1993.

But he believes the negative impression left by the tragic death of young Rhys has not had the same impact as that of James. He said: "Back in the 1980s and early 90s, nationally and internationally Liverpool was getting a dreadful press.

"Newspapers in Sweden and Germany said Liverpool was 'finished' and the only people left were those collecting their Giros.

"After Rhys died, Panorama returned to Croxteth for a story on gangs, their get-out clause was that they said it could have been any city in the country - but it wasn't, they came to Liverpool.

"However, the city has wised up to its poor image, particularly during this Capital of Culture year, and worked to change its image."

Mr Keating says that, when James Bulger died, the whole city was in "total despair", but with Rhys there is far more hope.

"Looking back to James Bulger's death, everyone was horrified when it happened. When I mention his name to students, they reply with information that 'his killers had watched a violent video'.

"But this has never been proven, yet it sticks in the memory through the drip of negative stories in the media.

"In the Bulger case, it was easy to stereotype the killers and the city, to the wider world it was what you'd expect from Liverpool. …

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Killing Forced City to Take Positive Action; on the First Anniversary of the Shocking Death of Rhys Jones, Liza Williams and Laura Sharpe Look at the Impact of His Murder on the Local Community, the World's Perception of Liverpool, and How Events in His Name Are Helping to Address Social Issues RHYS JONES MURDER ONE YEAR ON
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