Don’t stereotype us all as rioters

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Dylan Howel, Galashiels

The true consequences of the devastating destruction that raged throughout many city centres are only seen in the morning light. As firemen trawl through the smouldering ashes that once stood as a proud family business, the streets outside are lined with burnt out cars, further in town shop workers turn up to find shattered windows and an abundance of missing merchandise.

What started as a peaceful protest over the police shooting of a young man in London has rapidly escalated to national anarchy as communities throughout the country self-destruct.

The media and government have blamed the “youth of today” for the uproar – this is a prejudiced label that has been stamped on the young people of Great Britain.

Social poverty can be blamed for the amount of young people involved, but this really is a minority – a small pocket in the under 21 population.

With the Government failing to address young people’s troubles in poorer communities such as Croydon in London it’s no wonder so many jumped on the bandwagon to try and make a change, but looking for change through this kind of violent behaviour is not an option and no excuses can be made for the actions of the rioters.

What the young people need is a platform on a national scale to make a positive change in their communities.

It’s not all bad though. One of the good stories to come from the riots is that of young people cleaning up the streets of their cities. These young people used social networking – the same used by the rioters themselves – to rally young people who are proud of their community to clean up the streets. In a negative situation the majority of young people look for something positive to attribute.

Cheviot Helping Young People Participate and Engage panel, Kelso (five people aged 16 – 19)

We think that just because some young people acted that way, it doesn’t mean that all young people act that way. We also think that there are reasons behind the way some people have acted.

Maybe it is to compete with the wealthy in regard to all the latest technology and style of clothes. Some don’t know any better from their parents as they have not taught them right from wrong.

Another reason could be that they are trying to look good in front of their peers or even being peer-pressured into looting.

Some just think that it was fun and the chance of a freebie would be good and stealing may even be exciting because of the thrill of it.

For all the excuses, we think that it was still not right. How is ruining their country, wasting their country’s money, worth while as they are also wasting their own home? We think that two-year-olds behave better and that “yobs” is the words for them.

Taylor Franchetti, Jedburgh One thing that did catch my eye was the repeated use of “young people” and the implication that young people had nothing to do and that’s why they were rioting.

We had a discussion in class and we thought it was down to peer pressure, gangs and just doing it because the opportunity was there.

I don’t think it would affect people in our area and what they think about young people, but I do think it will make people more wary about gangs of young people up the street wearing hoodies.

It may affect people in cities but because we live in small towns people won’t be afraid of rioters and violence as older people take part in violence on the street as well.

Katrina Thompson, 18, Hawick

It’s everybody’s responsibility! It’s a common misconception that within society if something goes wrong it’s a young person.

Martin Luther King said: “When you cut facilities, slash jobs, abuse power, discriminate, drive people into deeper poverty and shoot people dead whilst refusing to provide answers or justice, the people will rise up and express their anger and frustration if you refuse to hear their cries. A riot is the language of the unheard.”

Young people in some communities feel they need to take part in the riots in order to be part of their community, to prevent them being outcasts.

I don’t agree with the rioting but their voice has most certainly been heard.

For society to function well, we need to integrate different cultures by listening to each other and respecting each other for who and what we are.

Shane Robertson, 16 Jedburgh,

If the rioters want to be big men and fight to the death, they can get on the next plane to Afghanistan and stand alongside real men – they’re called soldiers and they are fighting a war with a cause unlike people who see a chance to take advantage and think that they can do anything to seize that chance to loot.

Alan, 16, Hawick.

I really hope that the disgusting behaviour that rioters showed does not make people in the Scottish Borders think worse of the young people here.

Every young person I have spoke to shares the opinion that the people in the riots are not helping their reputation or their cause.

Steven Rattray, 12, Melrose.

I think the riots will not make people think that young people are bad in the Borders.

I am worried that people from other countries might not want to come over to the UK for the Olympic Games. One thing we can do, though, is show that we are not all people who hang around street corners in hoodies and damage people’s property.

Ruairidh Tait, Hawick

I think that the riots in England were a bit extreme. I think it was unnecessary to loot shops and set fire to both shops and homes, especially given the current financial struggle in the UK. Yes, they had good reasons but not reasons to riot and loot.

YOB thanks everyone for their comments. If you would like a say on our next question of the month, search for YOB and BYP on facebook.