Don’t get me wrong; destructive and violent street crime disturbs and frightens me as much as the next person, but on reading the newspaper report it became obvious within the first few sentences that the meeting considered young people to be the principal villains when it came to street crime.
Naturally, epitome of good citizenry that I am, I was not at the meeting, and to be fair, the report seemed to suggest there was a consensus in the meeting that young people should not be stereotyped and that only a minority of young people were involved in delinquent behaviour. Nevertheless it appeared that for many at the meeting delinquency on the town’s streets could only be put down to youth.
One of the reasons wheeled out to explain this problem was that there was not enough organised activity available for youngsters and so with nothing else to do they go out on the streets and rampage. There is usually some truth in old chestnuts but adults who totally fall for this one are in serious denial. They have consciously or unconsciously blocked from their memory what it is to be young.
I happen to think that there are more positives to having less censorship rather than increased censorship, as long as the problematic issues which arise are discussed sensitively between generations, and between parent and young person. I do not think these discussions occur often enough or when they do they tend to turn into adult rants (like this know-all one you may still be reading now).
More worrying is that when we adults lay the responsibility for increasing anti-social behaviour in our society at the feet of young people, we conveniently forget our part in cultivating a social environment in which anti-social behaviour can flourish because we have failed to take on our full parenting responsibilities. We do not always work very hard at being positive role models for our youngsters. All too frequently, we leave this to social networks, the internet, television and computer games, the youngsters’ peers groups, and other adults. At the same time we deny the paradox that those very acquisitive, aggressive cultural role models and values - which we adults, from the righteousness of our moral pedestal, condemn as powerful negative influences on our young - are in fact the values of a political system and marketing and media industries which we, directly or indirectly, in our clamour for greater financial wealth, have allowed to develop and flourish.