Is it Time to Stop Demonising the Young?
In the media and when talking to people of my generation we constantly hear about how today’s young people have no respect for authority, are responsible for all of the ‘anti-social behaviour’ and crime that afflicts not only Northampton but other towns and cities throughout the UK.
How many times have you heard people say ‘of course when teachers had authority in schools’, or listened to the bores who go on and on about the ‘local policeman who would give you a thick ear and take you home to your parents, where you inevitably got another good hiding’.
The problem is that many who now complain, and in some cases with justification unfortunately bracket all young people as the ‘modern day demons’ responsible for the ruination of society.
But is it true? and
If it is who is to blame?
The first thing people seem to forget is that the current crop of 16 to 21 year olds are the product of the generation of the 60’s who having been born between 1945 and 1950 rebelled against our parents and grandparents who had faced the hardships of two World Wars and the massive economic depression in between.
We were the generation who fought to abolish corporal punishment in schools and were responsible for opening up opportunities for ourselves that had been denied to our parents and now we are denying to our children and grandchildren.
Who amongst us wasn’t told off by neighbours wherever we were brought up for ‘hanging around’ in areas where adults couldn’t monitor us, and were we so scared of authority and our parents, some might say respectful, that we never transgressed or got up to mischief.
Of course we weren’t and for those who were then I really sympathise with them, what a dull and sad life they must have had as a young person.
In the month when hundreds of thousands of young 16 to 18 year olds have received the results of their labours in the form of their GCSE and A Level results we should perhaps start to accept some responsibility for the future we have denied many of them when we have unquestionably taken the opportunities offered to ‘improve our lot’.
For the first time since the 1920’s the number of young people, no matter what qualifications they have achieved are struggling to find employment or training with the number of 16 to 18 year olds at a record 191,000 an increase of over 5,000 in the past year, and over one million 16 to 24 year olds unemployed.
It is a generation whose talents are going to waste, talents that the country need if we are not only going to recover from the economic malaise and double dip recession that has now gone on for nine months but also to build for the future.
What is needed is for people and especially the Government to stop demonising the young and really commit to provide the education, training and economic investment to provide real and meaningful employment opportunities.
So the next time you feel like criticising and complaining about young people stop and think about whether it is really justified, and if it is fair enough, but for it to be justified think back to when you were between the ages of 15 and 24!!!!
For many of us who had a circle of friends I think the least that is recalled is either embarrassment or thanks that things didn’t go wrong or put another way,
Phew – Got away with that – lesson learned.
We should also be grateful that we had the opportunity of full-time employment which allowed millions to move from council housing to being able to afford to buy our own homes, to go to University and receive a ‘free’ education and to benefit from a great National Health Service to look after us, our parents and our children.
Will the young people of today who many are quick to criticise have the same opportunities and benefits?
I’m an optimist, some say overly optimistic but I really believe that the young people of today given the opportunity will make a better job of building a future in the UK than my generation have, and will do it with a social conscience that sadly too many have sacrificed in the pursuit of material wealth and self-interest.