Sunday, 1 June 2008

Britain battles drunk and violent youth

Posted Thu Aug 16, 2007 9:32am AEST Updated Thu Aug 16, 2007 10:48am AEST

British police are concerned drunken youth violence is intensifying. (Getty Images: Christopher Furlong)
One of Britain's top police officers has called for urgent moves to stem a rising tide of youth violence after a 47-year-old father of three was kicked to death by a group of young drunks.
The man, a company director from Warrington in north-west England, had tried to remonstrate with the group when he saw them damaging a vehicle and other property outside his home.
It was the latest in a series of violent, and frequently deadly, attacks by abusive, drunk young people in Britain.
"We cannot have a society where adults feel scared to go out and challenge youngsters up to no good," chief constable of Cheshire Peter Fahy said.
"Every night of the week Cheshire officers are engaged in a constant battle against anti-social behaviour and alcohol-induced violence ... it breeds fear and isolation."
Hardly a day goes by in Britain without another alarming report of alcohol-fuelled teenage violence.
While the phenomenon of unruly - some say feral - youth is hardly new in Britain, there are concerns the social breakdown is intensifying, as those involved get younger and the violence seems to worsen.
Taking responsibility
Mr Fahy's comments were widely applauded on news programs and radio call-in shows on Wednesday, but the Government did not immediately respond to his suggestion the drinking age be raised from 18 to 21.
The Sun newspaper, the country's most-widely read, ran an editorial saying it was time for parents to take responsibility.
"Should parents be arrested if they let their kids run wild? Should benefits be reduced or even stopped for those who won't work?" the paper asked.
"It is another signal that the 'Great' is going out of Great Britain."
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged a decade ago to be "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime", and later pioneered the introduction of so-called ASBOs (anti-social behaviour orders) to try to control unruly youths.
But 10 years on, statistics show scant improvement.
Sociologists say British youth do not spend enough time with adults, spending free time with friends unsupervised.
Julia Margo, a researcher at the IPPR think tank, says European young people spend much more time under supervision.
"Our young people drink more and take more drugs than others partly because they can," she said.
"Young people need to interact with adults to socially develop, and those that spend time away from adults will more rapidly fall into bad behaviour, or very bad behaviour."
- Reuters

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