Azara Blog: British adults allegedly afraid of young people

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Date published: 2006/10/22

The BBC says:

Britain is in danger of becoming a nation fearful of its young people, new research has claimed.

British adults are less likely than their European counterparts to intervene to stop teenagers committing anti-social behaviour.

The Institute for Public Policy report has blamed changes in the family, communities and the economy for the "increased risk of youth crime".

It said teenagers needed structured activities like drama and sports clubs.

Julia Margot, from the IPPR, told the BBC Radio Five Live: "In Britain, as opposed to countries like Spain and Italy, adults are less likely to socialise with children in the evenings.

"So we don't have this culture of children hanging out and playing out in the town square where adults are also socialising and drinking.

"We don't have a culture where adults go out to pubs and bars and bring children with them, and so there is a problem about adults being less used to having children around."

The 200-report, which followed a major debate on the "problems of modern youth" by academics and experts in the field, says that last year more than 1.5 million Britons thought about moving away from their local area due to young people hanging around.

About 1.7 million admitted to avoiding going out after dark as a direct result of youths gathering.

Britons were also three times more likely to cite young people "hanging around" as a problem than they were to complain about noisy neighbours.

British adults were more likely than their other European counterparts to say that young people were predominantly responsible for anti-social behaviour, and cite "lack of discipline as the root cause of anti-social behaviour".

Elsewhere in Europe, 65% of Germans, 52% of Spanish and 50% of Italians would be willing to intervene if they saw a group of 14-year-old boys in their country vandalising a bus shelter, compared with just 34% of Britons.

The Britons who were unwilling to get involved claimed they feared being physically attacked or verbally abused - or that they would be the victim of subsequent reprisals.

Nick Pearce, IPPR director, said: "The debate about childhood in Britain is polarised between false opposites: that either children or adults are to blame.

"In closer knit communities, adults supervised their neighbours' children.

"These days, adults tend to turn a blind eye or cross over on the other side of the road rather than intervene in the discipline of another person's child, often because they fear they might be attacked."

Recommendations for every secondary school pupil - aged 11 to 16 - to participate in at least two hours a week of structured extra curricular activities like martial arts, drama clubs and Scouts, will be published in the report "Freedom's Orphans: Raising Youth in a Changing World" next month.

Dear, oh dear. This kind of vacuous report could have been written any time between the start of civilisation and today. (Indeed it was probably written every decade of the 20th century, especially the 1960s.) No doubt Spain, Italy and the rest of Europe are not the paradises described in the report. And equally Britain is not the hell it is claimed. No doubt the real aim of the IPPR is that yet more money is thrown at families with children, courtesy of people who have chosen not to breed like rabbits. Why does Britain insist on wasting valuable money on sustaining useless consultancies (and related "experts") like the IPPR? Spend the money on something useful, like science and engineering.

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