I’m sure we’ve all heard it from somewhere. It’s that dreaded start to a conversation where you just know you’re going to receive a lecture about bringing back the cane or National Service. It happened to me today in fact. Yes, the “Back in my day” speeches. This article will look at one small part of the youth subculture that we live in and what’s the right response to it?
Currently in Britain and other western industrialised countries, the “chav” is considered a major threat to social happiness. That sounds a bit like an exaggeration but the media portrays this particular youth subculture as “yobs” and, along with the terrorist attacks, it creates this society of fear. A society where no-one can be trusted, a society where CCTV is a necessity for people to feel safe. Why?
Striking fear into any law-abiding citizens, gangs of youths “rule the streets.” They are quite often peaceful, possibly just standing on a street corner looking intimidating but not actually doing anything. However, I’d be a fool to suggest that the “yob” behaviour that is portrayed in the media isn’t at least half of the truth even if it is possible that they exaggerate the threat of the average youth. It’s just a small minority that are louder than the larger majority. They can destroy or steal cars, they do shoplift from shops, they do ‘bomb windows’ with stones or eggs. So what can we do?
Albert Cohen suggested that subcultures are due to status frustration. Youths get frustrated by a lack of status in society so create their own subculture that allows them that status. Subcultures are a culture within a main culture that, quite often, takes the norms and values of the main culture and changes them. This leads to conflict. If, however, this explanation of youth deliquancy is due to a lack of status, the obvious answer is to give them more status. That is easier said than done and often prejudice in society means that youths are trapped in a vicious circle that is hard to get out of. They commit crime for status in their subculture but as a result lose status in the main culture therefore making them commit more crime for status in their subculture… and the circle continues. But does it? Often, when the youths grow up, they grow out of their old habits for example by getting a job. That job gives them status and they do not need the prestige and the reputation of the subculture anymore. There are youths ready to take their place instead and so the youth subculture stays strong.
David Cameron, now Prime Minister, once suggested that we should “hug a hoodie” and this was naturally stomped on in the media but does he have a point? No, not literally. Don’t go up to a hoodie and hug them, it probably wouldn’t go down too well but if we embraced them more, if we did not marginalize them, it’d be easier for them to find a way back, to find a path on the straight and narrow and turn into a more respectable citizen. The further out of society we push them, the harder it is to bring them back.
What do you think? Are the current methods of cutting down crime working? Should we be tougher? Should we rehabilitatecriminals or lock them up and throw away the key? Let us know your thoughts by posting in the comments box below!
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