Cameron: Riots Wake-Up Call to English Society

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British Prime Minister David Cameron says his country must confront its "slow-motion moral collapse."

Last week, riots in different cities throughout the United Kingdom left five people dead and caused at least $350 million in damages.

"This has been a wake-up call for our country. Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face," Cameron told an audience at a youth center in Witney, his Parliamentary district in southern England.

"Just as people last week wanted criminals robustly confronted on our street, so they want to see these social problems taken on and defeated," he said.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said Monday that he was already examining whether those involved in the riots should have their welfare payments cut.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said young people convicted over the disorder would lose their right to use public transport for free.

Cameron says the country has been dragged down by the laziness and selfishness of many citizens, but he says the riots served as a wake-up call.

Cameron says Britain now faces a battle to find its moral compass. He pledged to end a culture of timidity in discussing family breakdown or poor parenting, or in criticizing those who fail to set a good example to their children or community.

"We have been too unwilling for too long to talk about what is right and what is wrong," Cameron said. "We have too often avoided saying what needs to be said about everything from marriage to welfare to common courtesy."

The government will spend the next few weeks creating new policies to help build a stronger society.

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