Often in society, we subject youths to harsh scrutiny and prejudice, so we generalise them as a negative impact upon our country and the structure in which we live by. However, if you speak to people who work with youths, you will find that their opinions contrast to the majority’s views. As such, the prejudicial thoughts we have of young people are largely falsified and we shouldn’t use them as scapegoats for our social and political problems.
From first glance, it appears that it’s the older generations that seem to have problems with the younger generations based on the pretence that because of what they wear and how they brand themselves, they are bound to cause trouble. The sight of a young person wearing a hooded top, hanging in large groups outside local shops would raise suspicion of their intent. Often it’s enough to worry people and deter them from going around certain areas, to which it gets to the point that a lot of the older generations (including the elderly) feel unsafe. Generally, people are concerned of how young people act because they wear clothes that may mask their identity or give off an intimidating aura through uncommon mannerisms to adults and older people. Just a few days ago, I overheard two elderly people talk about kids and one said “Bloody youths and their hooded tops, they only want to cause trouble and I don’t like walking ’round the shops in the afternoon.”
As coincidental as it was, people are concerned. As much as we all might like to agree with these theories, it harbors no excuse to mark them as bad people that we should condemn… Instead, we need to look at all of the young people as a whole and we need to understand the bigger picture.
Right now, we have five main youth subcultures within the UK society: Chavs; derivations of american hip-hop fashion and are often seen as stupid and violent working class youths, Goths; dark-clad clothing and makeup that listen to dark genres of music such as “Gothic Rock” and “Darkwave,” Emos; emotional rockers who emphasise feelings of suffering and misery with a general hate for society, Punks; anti-establishment and Punk-rock listening young people who want freedom through anarchy… And Ravers; new age hippies who attend high-adrenaline and fast-paced electronic parties. Each genre is only pointed out in British media based on their negative stereotypes, particularly Chavs and Goths, who are deemed as particularly violent subcultures. Chavs are seen as kids who like to wear “trashy” sportswear clothing and use vulgar language and fighting… And Goths are seen as Satanic occultists who partake in morbid cult rituals related with blood and gore. This is an overview, but there is so much speculation on these genres that most of the facts are false and we don’t care to understand that the individual youth related to a certain genre may very well be a good and upstanding kid, who may just like the style of clothes or music. Essentially, all these subcultures are formed through shortcomings in social situations… this means that when we relay information to each other, we forego unnecessary details to make communication easier.
As much as there are people who dislike these genres, there are less-prejudiced people who support all styles of youth culture and set to put youths in a good light and they’re called “Youth Workers.” Organizations in the UK such as Connexions: The Hub, The Youth Federation and Oasis provide young people with a place to go and a means to get off the street, if only for a few hours a day. I personally went down to The Hub to talk with youth workers to discuss the issues that young people have and I was fortunate to meet a youth worker called Gareth Jones, who has been working as a youth worker for over 10 years.
In my conversation with Gareth, he explained that “The government’s budget cuts, EMA cuts and a hike in University fees has made the economy unstable and this has created a unlevelled playing field for youths, where now the situation is that harsh stereotypes nudge them towards negative behaviour.”
He also went on to say, “Mass generalisation is false and we can’t use young people as a scapegoat for all our problems, I have met many youths throughout my career and I have heard some truly inspiring stories, as well as make some of them. One of the roles in our job is not only to provide facilities and activities for young kids, but to also play as advocate between them and the older generation and help set youths in a good light. Of course there are some youths who just want to cause trouble, but generally I have not had a problem with any young person I have worked with in the past 5 years.”
Also discussed in the conversation with Gareth Jones, as well as other youth workers, was the fact that Connexions has undertaken a phenomenal cut in resources over recent years, from £15mil to £1.5mil and this means reaching out to fewer groups of people. We cannot afford these resources to be taken away because this will only make things worse in the sense that less money means less clubs and activities which will result in more and more kids taking to crime and negative behaviour JUST because they’re bored. The best course of action is to invest more money into youth organisations and this will house many things for youths to do and means less of them out on the street. It is as simple as that, but government processes and protocols would take more time to distribute this wealth they can potentially invest in youth work organisations such as Connexions, The Youth Federation and Oasis.
In short, bad kids are bad kids because they’re driven to be like that, but there are people and groups who are working to help change people’s opinions. Taking away from this, people should understand that not all young people are out to cause trouble and/or crime, so we need to be more empathetic towards them. In the current economical and social state with the London Riots heavily impacting upon youths and high University fee, they have very little to no means of recreation and opportunities to make better lives for themselves. Investments into youth work activities and funding towards government-granted youth groups will certainly stem a lot of youth crime and it will give the younger generation more opportunities to make something for themselves. I’m sure most of us have heard the saying “The Devil makes work for idle hands” and it couldn’t be any more true in these situations. All that can be expected of us, is that we give young people a chance.