Bad British kids scare adults

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Thursday, November 2, 2006

Drinks, drugs, violence, promiscuity: British youth at the top or near the top of the bad youth list. And they frighten grown ups.

A report by the Institute of Public Policy Research, to be published next week, describes British youth as among the worst in Europe. The study compares teenage English and Scots with their counterparts in other European countries.

Fewer British youths ate regularly with their family, and many more spent most evenings with their friends; they were drunk more often, got involved in fights and more had sex than other European youth.

More British adults than Continental adults would be reluctant to intervene should they see youths vandalising a bus shelter fearing a violent response. Many adults were fearful of leaving home after dark and a large number were thinking of moving home because of youths "hanging about".

The demonisation of youth in the British media is said to have induced real fear in many adults.

Many more comparisons are made in this report.

A study comparing the behaviour of South of England youth in 2005 with that in 1985, concluded that youth now are better behaved than their predecessors. There were marked differences between boys and girls.

ASBOs (Anti-social behaviour orders) are civil actions that can be taken against those who are likely to cause alarm, harassment, or distress to others outside their family. Research by NACRO (National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders) in 2002 concluded that they were a failure. The average ASBO costs more than £5,000 to enforce and takes over three months to obtain. Over one third of all ASBOs were breached within the first 9 months of issue.

Another report published today by NACRO criticises some courts for using ASBOs inappropriately and too readily. ASBOs should be seen as the last resort for young offenders. There should be consultations with the local Youth Offending Team (YOT) and the reasons why other remedies were not suitable should be given. There were also indications that ASBOs are being used as weapons of racial discrimination, there being a disproportionate number of young black people being served with ASBOs. In some quarters, youths flaunt ASBOs as a badge of honour.