Page last updated at 19:42 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 20:42 UK

'How could this happen here?'

By Chris Buckler
BBC News North of England correspondent, Edlington

Edlington, South Yorkshire
Residents say the community became less close-knit after the mine closed

The image of a bloodied child walking through the streets continues to haunt Edlington.

It is being talked about throughout the old mining village in South Yorkshire.

He was one of two boys, aged 11 and nine, assaulted as they played at the site of an old quarry.

Police tape has been fastened to uprooted branches, cordoning off the area where the other boy was found unconscious.

In shops, newspapers echo back the shocked words and descriptions of residents.

Since the weekend they have been asked time and time again "How could this happen here?"

Community gone

It is a question they have been asking themselves, but some are growing concerned about the way this area, on the outskirts of Doncaster, is being portrayed in the press.

It is getting to the point where you are not surprised even when things like this happen
Melv Rodgers

"There is crime all over the place now - it's not just here," said Barry Harvey.

"Twenty years ago, though, something like this would have been unthinkable."

Mr Harvey was walking his dog Tyson in a park just a street away from where the boys were assaulted.

He lived in Edlington in the days when mining was the main employer - but that was almost three decades ago.

"It was better when the pit was open," he said.

"Everybody knew each other - now they have to go out of the area for work.

"It's just not as close-knit a community."

'Just shocking'

It is accepted there are many things that need improving in the area, including health and education.

Police guard scene of attack in Edlington, South Yorkshire
Newspaper headlines have echoed the shocked words of locals

Crime is also a problem, although violence is something people will not get used to.

"Things like vandalism, you get that everywhere," said a mother, as she pushed her nine-month-old baby on a swing.

"But there has been nowt like this, it's just shocking."

Melv Rodgers was sitting by the playground. Another long-time resident, he said he had seen the area change.

"It was brilliant growing up in this village, when the pit was here," he said.

"But recently it's different. It is getting to the point where you are not surprised even when things like this happen."

His words may seem like a cry of despair.

But the residents were united in saying it was the only time they could remember such serious violence where children were the victims.

There is a certain pride in these streets, something people date back to Edlington's mining past.

There now also seems a determination not have its future tainted by violence.

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