Am I the only one who has found the constant references to the “feral yobs” who supposedly are “terrorising” our streets insulting and degrading to the youth of Britain? It seems the media in the midst of a very rainy silly season have nothing better to do but quote David Cameron and his ironically titled comments about “anarchy in the UK” and use the very real problem of gun crime to try and claim that the youth of Britain are out on the prowl intent on stabbing, harassing and murdering the upstanding and law abiding adult population.
Meanwhile the media pours scorn and ridicule on the same youth for getting the highest grades ever in the GCSEs. “GSCEs must be too easy!” they cry. “There are too many pupils taking soft subjects like Sociology!” bellows another. So even the vast majority of Britain’s youth who are excelling at education have this achievement belittled by the media who seem intent on making them into underachieving menaces.
We’ve been here before, particularly in the youth culture of the punk heyday of the late 70s. The difference now is there doesn’t appear to be a definable sub-culture in the way that punk and even the new-age music that followed gave to groups of youths rebelling in some way against the adult world. Instead of “Anarchy in the UK” we have Rhianna’s annoyingly catchy “Umbrella”, Pete Doherty’s drug addled ramblings and the occasional wit of Lily Allen’s lyrics.
And then there’s alcohol. The stuff the supposedly upstanding adults drink in blinding quantities and again pour ridicule on the youth for following in their footsteps. It’s hardly surprising that under aged drinking is so widespread and indeed we all know that experimenting with alcohol – at whatever age – can often lead to mayhem of different varieties. This is a much bigger issue for society and not some kind of “youth problem”. In fact who is it exactly that sits in corporate boardrooms and comes up with the idea that they need more colourful varieties of drinks to attract the youth? Who is it that comes up with strategies and creates campaigns aimed at encouraging young people to drink? It certainly isn’t the young people themselves.
The bottom line in all of this is that the youth are a good measure of society as a whole. What I see are a lot of kids who want to try and get decent jobs, do well in school and try to become full members of society. However, they are also tremendously concerned. These kids are growing up in a world where the insecurity of capitalism is evident everywhere and there is a certain environmental consciousness that doesn’t exist among their elders. But too there is a certain despair that us adults seem to think is our special preserve. They feel the decline and it affects them too. They see the instability in their future, the rising cost of education, seemingly endless war and they get down just like we do.
So yes there are some young people, just like there are plenty of adults, who engage in criminal activity. There are some young people who make bad decisions and get involved with people and situations they shouldn’t be involved with but on the whole, Britain’s youth are not “feral yobs” intent on taking over the street. They are rather human beings, perhaps more disheartened than previous generations about what the future holds, trying the best they can to get through life under an increasingly unstable capitalism. The kids are indeed alright.