Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Monstering youth: a job-creation scheme?

A good comment piece on the creation of the problem-youth industry, from someone on the frontline, in this week’s ‘Young People Now’:
Through my involvement in crime and disorder issues, I have witnessed young people being transformed into a social issue that can be solved by partnership working. This process has involved creating fear in the minds of citizens that young people are dangerous. Not only that, but it creates the idea that it is OK to feel fearful and to have the perception, ill-founded or not, that young people are dangerous.

Young people have been demonised by those people who want to create an enemy that they can then expend resources to combat. This helps them secure their own positions. So we have antisocial behaviour orders, acceptable behaviour contracts, CCTV: all to solve the problem of being young.

The tragedy is that these schemes have a self-fulfilling negative impact on the community, in that they heighten the perception of fear. In the end, the perception of fear is so great it can't be solved, because it's an illusion and, no matter what is done or said, people hang on to their mistaken beliefs that young people are at least a nuisance and at worst dangerous.

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