I’m sure that most, if not everyone, of you reading this are aware by some degree of the ‘August Riots’ that are happening up and down the country. A few years early perhaps, but the Kaiser Chiefs were certainly right when they predicted a riot.
A compilation of violence and thefts, these raids are concreting into the minds of the general public the image of teens and youths. Now it seems that all teenagers are to be regarded as yobs and hooligans. When a country chooses a foreign ambassador, it chooses the best of the best – someone who epitomises all the quality that that nation has to offer. Yet the teenagers’ representatives are nothing more than the worst that our age group can offer; looters and those that wear their ASBOs like crowns. And yet when one of our youth Olympic Ambassadors is charged with two counts of burglary, violent disorder and attacking a police car, we have to question whether this actually is the best we can offer – or whether people believe fame can buy them a get out of jail free card. Either way, now everyone of the same age can be assured that they will be tarnished with the same brush that was used to smash shop windows and take goods. Sure – why not browse the clothes section before grabbing the t-shirt in your favourite colour and running. It astounds me that people think that this is in any way acceptable. I don’t know whether it’s the parents, the schools or what they see on TV but somewhere along the lines these teens missed a vital lesson in what’s right, wrong and against the law. And I’m sorry but who the hell do they think they are? Apart from the exceptionally rich, everyone is struggling at the moment. But they deal with it maturely and respectfully, rather than as if they are above the law and better than anyone else. These people seem to be unaware of the consequences of their actions: they say that there are not enough jobs for them – so in order to make this right, they burn the businesses that may have given them jobs, and then ask why no-one will offer them a job. I wonder… could it possibly be that they are law-breakers and do not deserve the positions? No, of course not. They ask for respect – well maybe it’s time that they earned it.
However, the situation wasn’t exactly perfect before this whole debacle kicked off. Any teen wearing a hoodie was assumed to be hiding a knife, despite the fact it was just generally cold out. We were already being treated like a contagious disease – I’d hold doors open for strangers, and they’d look at me as if I was something nasty they’d stepped in. So in a way, it’s no wonder the youth populous acts the way they do – they say that if you treat a man like a criminal, before long he will begin to act like one; and that’s exactly the case here. Stuck in an endless, unbreakable circle, with no offered opportunity to change the stereotype. Needless to say however, this in no way makes the behaviour of the last week acceptable. It just condemns the use of assumption. “To assume is to make an ass out of you and me,” I was told once when I was younger, to help me learn the word’s spelling – but that’s exactly what it does. I’ve already written about the use of stereotypes, and we have arrived right back at it again. I just hope that in this case it doesn’t lead to the creation of an entire generation that is out of control. Those of us that don’t spend out spare time destroying our home towns are sick of being treated as if we do. I don’t think a little differentiation is a lot to ask for.