No. I don’t mean young goats. I mean youths. Yobbos. Hooligans. Adolescents. Young whipper-snappers.
BBC Breakfast had a feature about the differences between the Teddy Boys of the 1950’s and other youth movements through time compare to today’s youth. The conclusion? Not much. In the Britain of the 1950’s you had your Teddy boys, menacing people in their foppish refinery, causing riots on Brighton Beach and using a chip shop worth of grease to style their hair.
In the 60’s came Mods and rockers, moody jazz loving tykes gathering in seedy cellar bars, dancing round hand bags and listening to popular tunes. Hanging about bus stops and dance halls scaring the elderly with their crazy ways and vinyl clothing;
The 70’s brought with it hippy culture. Grannies would lock up their valuables as stoned long haired free lovers copulated in their front gardens spreading free love and drugs like the Amerrycan government spreads democracy.
In the 80’s, punk and New Romantics took their turn on the social ladder. The punks with their spikey hair, their piercings, aggressive music and their slightly camp bum boy looks; the New Romantics with their floppy hair dos, dandy sleeves and cornucopia of sexually transmitted diseases. Punks causing those grannies that hadn’t barracaded themselves away more nightmares than an ever lengthening doorless corridor. Stereotypically, punks and striking miners seemed to be bedfellows in the media circus. Rioting, being unemployed and swearing on telly. Oh the ghastliness!
Then came the 90’s. Indie kids and ravers. Not very menacing really. Unless you found the prospect of a moody teen gazing at your shoes through their Manchester curtains disturbing. Though there were a few crusties about but nobody cared for them really because, in effect, they were just needing a good wash and the simple protection of a bottle of shower gel was all that was needed to scare any crusties that happened to come within smelling distance.
Of course now, in Noughties Britain, we still have the moody miserable, unthreatening types; The Goffs and the emos, who would much rather kill themselves or write about you menacingly in their Livejournals than threaten you for your telephone and wallet. But we also have the chavs. Despite the universal ridicule of the British version of trailer park trash, poncing about in their whiter than white sports wear, baseball caps and mopeds, Chavs are still a strong encompassing umbrella for disaffected youth in Britain today. Entirely missing the irony that their lifestyle choice does not, actually, bring respect but ridicule, Chav kids can be seen loitering about at bus stops, in underpasses and outside the off-licence. From being unafraid of authority (“Do as I say or I’ll tell someone you touched me”), using fear to get others to break the law (“Buy us some WKD or I’ll post fireworks through your door”) and commanding respect where none is due (“You gotta respec’ me or I’ll send pizzas to your house at 1am”). To using loopholes to get what they want with out thought of the consequence (“Yeah. Am gonna get sprogged up like so I can get a council flat”, “I’m going to hit you now but you can’t hit me back because if you do I’ll do you for assault and it’s my word against yours”. Kids today. A fucking laughable mess.
So why do they hang around at bus shelters or in parks drinking cheap alcoholic drinks? If you ask them (and, it seems, many community Youth workers do) they tell you the reason they hang around being all useless is because “Theres noffin to do”. When you ask them what they would like to do the stock answer is “I dunno” or “noffin”. In response, those in council positions and youth working types battle endlessly over funding for “Youth Projects” and “Youth enterprise centres”. Ok some work but none are 100% successful at ridding unsightly youths from the streets. Why? Because adults, as usual, don’t listen to the youth. They assume. They make decisions based on what they would have wanted when they were kids.
The key is to ask. What do they want? Well they’ll tell you. They want to “do noffin” they don’t know what they want. Answer? Well its simple. In a Gnomepants governed Britain, outside school hours, teenagers, that elect to do “noffin” rather than volunteer for community schemes, are sealed into windowless boxes. No computers, no toys, no books, no magazines, no food or drink. Just nothing. There they stay until bedtime. It might seem cruel, but it’s not. There are air holes. They can breath. They are not restrained in the rooms. Nor are they subjected to mind control drugs or slavery. Far from it. They get what they request. Nothing. They get to do what they want. Nothing. Simple. Effective. Affordable.
Eventually there will come a time when they want to do something other than sit in their box. When that time comes they will know what it is they want to do. Of course some might argue that sitting round in a windowless box doing nothing is not constructive. But it is. It is teaching the meaning of nothing. Of course this solution is not 100% effective. I’ll make no claims that it is. For it to be 100% effective one would need to answer the question “I dunno”. Maybe therein lies the problem. Freedom of choice. We ask “What do you want to do?”. Giving them an option. It is your choice, what would you like to do? They don’t know being the reply. However, maybe you do, you as an adult know what it is they can be doing. They may not Want to do it. I don’t want to be in work. I don’t want to pay taxes. But I do. Because I have to. So given the option of wiping up sick, piss or blood or sitting in a windowless box which would you chose?
Then, of course, there are those that would blame the parents. “Oh the parents just don’t care”. No. They probably don’t. But application of the box could work on them too. Under Gnomepants, Britain and the Empire will flourish and a new age will be entered into.