Are young people really the feral race of gnome-like vandals that we see on the news every day? They occasionally score the odd record high in their SATS, GCSE’s and A-Levels (if an occasion is constituted by an unfailing yearly cycle), but surely the volume of drugs they consume, the cigarettes they smoke and the violent crimes they commit condemn them to their rightful place as the bane of society?
Certainly, the statistics indicate that the regularity of adolescents taking drugs has fallen consistently since the nineties and fewer teens than ever are adopting the habit of smoking, both of which have long since become demonised and pitied habits rather than the vice of the Cool Kids, but have we not all seen them hanging from the public monkey-bars, huddled in groups, disturbing the peace?
This mode of thinking is now the norm, with anybody who could possibly be construed as below the age of twenty-five being regarded with suspicion and distrust on the streets. The term so often used by police forces and news reports; youths, now carries with it such assumed guilt that it seems impossible for the culprit not to be foaming at the mouth.
However, in a purely objective sense, can they be distinguished from their elders? In music and dress sense, perhaps, but this can be said when contrasting people of any age. But are they any more prone to apathy in the face of someone in need; is the surprise expressed when a young person lends an arm to an elderly person from the bus warranted?
Being among their ranks, I can certainly say that having somebody cross the street to avoid you merely due to your deficit of clocked decades upon this earth is hurtful. Taking the bus to college sees me helping the elderly and mothers daily with trolleys and buggies, and each time I receive a warm thanks, along with something that never ceases to be a slap in the face. They look surprised.
It’s a marvellous series Catch-22’s:
A morning news story often sees time devoted to childhood obesity, caused by a sedentary lifestyle, video games, fatty foods and a distinct lack of exercise. A picture is painted of just how few grace the streets, with libraries, gyms and fields devoid of frolicking little ones.
The very next story will then proceed to focus on the millions of eleven-year old gangs that inhabit every nook and cranny of the streets, clogging train lines and wasting away under the effects of drugs and cigarettes.
So that’s what it comes down to: inside, children laze and accrue vast tracts of fat, and simply must leave the house immediately; outside, they run rife on dangerous streets and must be kept inside for their own good.
It’s often stated that groups of young people loiter in public spaces to excess, and either disturb or intimidate those walking the streets. However, is it not for that express purpose that public spaces exist? Are the likes of skate-parks not constructed solely as places for urban youth to exercise their sporting passions?
In an average town you may find ten to twenty thousand people, giving an approximate two to three thousand adolescents. And yet, when passing public spaces, at most several dozen are spotted loitering. And yet it is assumed and often stated that ‘all’ young people are wasting time, intimidating, drinking and smoking.
This, of course, simply does not tally. It remains that most are working, studying or merely acting as any other person acts.
Unfortunately for the current young generation, they are the last bastion of defenceless sects. Every other means by which people can be grouped is protected to at least some degree; racism and sexism have been, on the whole, stamped from the realms of acceptable conversation. As, of course, they should be.
The same applies to the overweight, the underweight, the mentally disabled, the domestic and foreign, the working and elderly, the underprivileged and rich, the academic and practical. Every method of grouping human beings sees social regulations and very real laws that protect their interests and prevent their discrimination.
But one remains. The young are unprotected. They are the last dogs that remain, the first to be kicked at the sign of trouble. In fact, contrary to the former view of the young as the fresh-faced future of the world, some consider the members of the world’s youth as weeds that by some cosmic accident may one day become real people. In the meantime, they are ripe for ridicule, for daring to sit and be.