A new wiser generation?

rebels

Les jeunes Britanniques défient les clichés. On les imaginait fêtards consommant trop d’alcool, en opposition constante à leurs parents, un peu à l’image des personnages principaux du film anglais Les Boloss diffusé dans nos salles en 2011 et qui fit un carton Outre-Manche. Mais les données statistiques disent tout autre chose… 

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Youth crime has always caused a great deal of trouble to the country and politicians have multiplied theories and measures in order to curb a problem that is feared and misunderstood, as shown by the infamous “hug a hoodie” speech by Cameron and the hoodie ban imposed by the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.

The British youth is known for being the worst behaved in Europe and with the crisis and the increasing economic difficulties, it would seem understandable that said behavior could get even worse. British teenagers are still seen as irresponsible, aggressive, drunk and dangerous. We often imagine them as wild 1960s-like mods and rockers (the same who started a social and sexual revolution thanks to high wages and new types of contraception). Furthermore, it is proved that in times of economic difficulties crime rates tend to rise, which is what is happening in countries like Spain: since the recession the number of violent crimes has increased by 9.5 %.

But oddly enough, British teenagers have gotten their act together since the recession: they are drinking less and are less likely to act aggressively than the previous generation. In 1998, 71 % of 16- to 24-year-olds said they’d consumed alcohol in the previous week, but in 2010, that number fell to just 48 %. This goes with an increase of civic engagement.

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Many reasons are put forward by experts such as the Internet that keeps teenagers indoors, online, instead of out on the streets, or the success of public health campaigns against alcohol abuse, or the increasing number of immigrants from non-drinking cultures (Bangladesh or Pakistan for examples). But it seems that the main reason for this shift in teenagers’ behaviour is some kind of gained maturity: they realized that they can no longer afford to act out if they want a better future, they will have to continue studying to be able to pay for tuition and rent. Those expenses need some sacrifices on the side which is why a third of British nightclubs closed down in the past five years. “It’s no longer all sex, drugs and rock and roll” says Christian Kurz, a Viacom vice president who runs MTV, a TV network aimed mostly at young audiences. With the never-ending economic crisis, are British teenagers about to become the wisest in Europe?

Ourida HAJAJ, Olivia LI, Inès PIONNIER

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