Saturday, August 05, 2006

At least show some foresight

Brendan O'Neill, writing in the New Statesman on the current wave of antisocial behaviour towards teenagers, says:
If you want to see the future of youth policing in Blair's Britain, look no further than the West Country, the region that has become a sinister laboratory for testing Orwellian ways of keeping teens off the streets.
He describes a battery of tactics used against young people, including the 'Mosquito', which emits a high-pitched scream that only under-20s can hear (and which presumably will deter families from shopping centres in their droves - has anyone actually thought of that?)
The launch of the Mosquito sums up the fear and loathing that is driving policy on young people. We seem scared of our own youth, imagining that "hoodies" and "chavs" are dragging society down. We're so scared, in fact, that we use impersonal methods to police them: we use scanners to monitor their behaviour, we blind them from a distance, and now employ machines to screech at them in the hope they will just go away. With no idea of what to say to them - how to inspire or socialise them -we seek to disperse, disperse, disperse. It will only heighten their sense of being outsiders.
Even if one has no bleeding-heart qualms about justice, humanity or social responsibility towards our younger generation, you would think that self-interest at least might give everyone pause for thought. As the saying goes, be nice to the young because they will choose your care home when you are old. The way we're going, there won't be any care homes: our bath chairs will be wheeled to the edge of Beachy Head and the brakes taken off. It seems a bit short-sighted to pick fights with those who will one day inevitably be able to bully us back.

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