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.