Thursday, 19 June 2008

Why are young people so criminalised?

An interesting article that appeared in the Weekly Worker this week points out that in 2005, 71% of all media stories about young people were negative. Young people are demonised and criminalised in the UK to an extent that is unheard of anywhere else in Europe. Our own Children's Commissioner for Wales has pointed out how young people in Wales are being vilified.

It was against this backdrop that I contributed to a debate in the Senedd yesterday about school exclusions. My argument was that the behaviour of school children has not changed in any dramatic sense over time, but that it's society's view of what constitutes bad behaviour that has changed. A decrease in the price of alcohol may have enabled more school children to purchase alcohol than young people in the past. The reason I mention alcohol is because of the news coverage of the World Health Organisation's recent report that puts Wales at the bottom of a world league table with regards to children getting drunk. People have probably always drunk too much, at all ages. Alcohol is an intrinsic part of our culture and until this changes we cannot expect our young people to behave in a different way to the adults they see around them.


ryan said...

Hi Leanne. Your right to say that the behaviour of young people has not changed much in recent years. However, you mention alcohol as a significant problem. The fact of the matter is that young people feel that alcohol helps them escape from their current environment where there are few employment prospects. I'm a 20yo from Llanelli, and there are few career prospect for those with out a higher education. I really hope you and your government have a solution and I look forward to your reply.

Leanne Wood said...

Hello Ryan. I agree with everything you say about alcohol. It can be used for much the same reason as drugs. The Assembly Government is constrained by a lack of macro-economic muscle, and is unable to make massive changes to the economy. However with EU convergence funds being invested in raising skills, and the One Wales Government recently announcing an increase in apprenticeships, we are trying to improve things for young people.