- 50% think cause of riots was mindless violence the rest say:
(boredom 13.5%) (lack of provision / interest in young 13.2%) (lack of morals 10.6%)
(gap between rich and poor 6.6%) (youth unemployment 6%)
- 5% were asked to get involved but less than 0.5% were actually involved
- 95% definitely would not take part if asked to, 2% would consider ( *1)
- 63% got their information from TV/Radio not social networking (14%)
- 45% feel the coverage of young people was unfair
- 86% think parents should take more responsibility for their children’s crimes
Half of our young people think that the main reason for the recent rioting across the country was simply ‘mindless vandalism’ as indicated by a snapshot survey of over 500 young people undertaken by the Jack Petchey Foundation. Others cited boredom (13.5%),lack of provision and government interest in young people (13.2%) lack of morals (10.6%) the gap between rich and poor (6.6%) and youth unemployment (6%)
Of the 517 respondents 80% completely condemned the violence outright and 95% said they would not take part if asked to do so.
A number of young respondents pointed to the lack of morality in society generally, summed up by this young man “its bad examples set by parents and the ruling elites. MPs' expenses, banker’s greed, bailout and continued bonuses, Murdochgate and cosy deals with media, police and government...”
The Jack Petchey Foundation believes it is particularly important to seek the views of young people as our society seeks to understand the causes. Many are angry that ‘young people’ have been blamed. Almost half (45%) felt the coverage of young people was unfair.
One commented “The media are only interested in showing and talking about negativity against the youth". Another said “I saw a headline which said "teenagers rob local shop". It’s stupid because you wouldn’t say 'adults rob local shop'!”, “It was not just youth who were involved in rioting and looting, but parents and adults as well. Unfortunately 95% of news reports failed to label the other age groups involved”.
It is really important young people are not scapegoated and blamed for these riots. 99% of young people are not involved in serious youth violence. (London Serious Youth Violence Board) and if we focus on the 1% who are, we risk creating a negative cycle. As one young person said “if young people feel like they are treated as scum so they will act as scum”.
Despite current debates about the role social networking played in inciting copycat behaviour, almost two thirds of young people (63%) told us that TV/Radio was the main source of information with only 14% using facebook, and instant messaging as their provider of information.
There needs to be a focus on responsible reporting of such violence. It does not seem helpful that the same rolling images were being shown (as if live) on news programmes at least 24 hours after the events had actually taken place.
Interestingly of the young people surveyed 86% thought that parents should take more responsibility for their children’s crimes.
One of the outcomes of this situation has to be a long hard look at how society promotes parental support and creates opportunities for parents to engage and be proud of their youngsters. Our 2011 Listen Up report showed that over 66% of young people said that the most inspirational person in their life was a family member as opposed to celebrity, friends etc.
Where there is a lack of parental support (for whatever reason), the Jack Petchey Foundation believes we have to create opportunity for alternative parent figures to engage with young people. Thousands of grass roots organisations work for the good of young people year on year and we know the difference to this makes to many youngsters who might otherwise be ‘lost’. The Jack Petchey Foundation plans to invest a further £300,000 this year in our Achievement Award programme (making a total of £2.8m per annum) to inspire, support and affirm young people through these grassroots youth organisations who provide a sense of community, moral support and education for our youngsters.
Clearly there can be absolutely no justification for the violence that has occurred. Unlike previous riots in the UK it seems that there is not one clear cut cause and the underlying reasons are complex.
We call on government, policy makers and community leaders not to make knee jerk solutions to the situation but to engage with the communities directly affected, to engage with young people and to endure that they feel their voice is heard, as we build our society for the future.
Note 1: of the 5% (10) who said they would get involved if asked – 5 said they would protest non-violently not riot, 3 felt it would be exciting, 1 wanted to overthrow the government and 1 was scared what would happen to his family if he didn’t